Formed just three years ago, Germany’s Grabunhold are already capturing the spirit of mid-’90s melodic black metal. The group’s debut EP, Unter dem Banner der Toten (Or, Under the Banner of the Dead), is the kind of black metal that has since died — think: Dissection, Unanimated, Naglfar — but is surreptitiously on the rise. The band’s name, Grabunhold, is borrowed from Tolkien, of course. Essentially, the Grabunholde are Barrow-wights, the very same scary wispy ghosty fucks that tried to subjugate and then kill Frodo and his merry band of Hobbits in the Barrow-downs. So, naturally, the Germans have taken to the legendarium with express interest, going so far as to fashion their logo after one of the Grabunholde, which takes the Summoning worship of Tolkien to greater heights, and construct music based off Frodo and team’s encounter with the undead who are still intent with suppressing the return of the Dúnedain of Cardolan.
Actually, the Germans explain it better: “We were always focused on the melodies we created. Tolkien is one of our main influences and we tried to translate his written atmosphere into our music. Every song has its own story and its own meaning. For example, the song “Grabunholde” portraits those evil, haunting barrow-wights, which live in forgotten tombs. The lyrics describing more the emotions and desolation of this way of existence. We were so fascinated by the barrow-wights themselves, their tragic story and their fate to live eternal as cursed, undead beings, that we decided to build up our sound and our image as a band on them. The atmosphere and the presence of this pure, ancient evil gave us the base to recreate it in our music. Melancholy, doom, medieval times, black magic and pure grimness, but still a rest of lost heroism and the beauty of old forgotten days. This is what we try to express with our sound! In the end fantasy gives us the opportunity to escape from reality and so does music too. We try to combine both expressions of art with our own language.”
OK, enough about Tolkien’s stranglehold on metaldom. Let’s return to the grave-frighteners in Grabunhold and their, uh, Tolkien-esque black metal. Bring on Germany’s new hopefuls! Unter dem Banner der Toten is hereby unfurled for all lost, desperate souls…
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