Strength Through Wounding – A Review of Krigsgrav’s ‘Leave No Path To Follow’

Krigsgrav are a four-piece from Texas, USA. They’ve been active since 2004. Leave No Path To Follow is their fifth full-length album. I’m saying all this, but I only know it from brief research because I’m not going to lie – this is the first Krigsgrav release I’ve ever heard.

Why have they never crossed my path at some point in the last fourteen years? I’ve no idea. There’s no real reason for it, but here we are, and off we go. Aside from the wonderfully morose Luciana Nedelea artwork and after a brief introduction of ambient sounds and tempered guitars, the very first thing that hits you upon initial listening (and will remain with you for every spin after) is the riffs. This thing is absolutely overflowing with killer, melancholic doom riffs; imagine a post-blackened version of one of the early “Peaceville Three” bands (My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema for any uncultured spitbags who have no idea what I’m on about) and you’re generally swinging in the right ballpark. The second thing is the crushing emotional weight – the album is created from the heart, dwelling somewhere in the space between anger, despair and hope; and often within all three. By the time second track Strength Through Wounding is halfway through if you don’t feel emotionally invested then I respectfully suggest you check your pulse. The final few minutes of that song are particularly great, too; the culmination of Justin Coleman‘s rasped vocals over a simple, repeating piano motif mimicked and danced around by the wonderfully toned, evolving guitars. Devastatingly effective.

Apparently Krigsgrav (which translates as “wargrave”) used to be straight up black metal. Having not heard them in that incarnation I can only say that although this is heavily doom laden the blackness still remains as a constant bubbling below the surface, surging frequently and with varying vehemence into beautiful post-isms. These genre dynamics are often utilised exceptionally well in the song structures, many tracks starting off more crushing in their assault before post-black elements bloom and help carry the songs skyward to their epic conclusions. It’s a captivating formula; on even my first listen I found myself eager to see where the tracks would end up and I was never let down, all the way to the conclusion of grand finale The End (Forever Mourne).

But is that the final track? Not quite. When this showed up in the turgid miasmic sinkhole of the BMD inbox, it could easily have been lost for eternity if not for one thing that made it immediately stick out for me – the album’s ultimate track on the listing was entitled Brave. Well shit, I thought to myself. Could that be a cover of the stunning Katatonia song of the same name, from one of my favourite doom albums of all time, Brave Murder Day? Why yes, as it turns out, it was. And it fucking rules. I won’t say too much about it or even link it here, just head to their Bandcamp page and experience it for yourself.

In summation: Leave No Path To Follow is a great collection of material with many twists-and turns that holds your attention for the duration, and feels surprisingly shorter than its 50-odd minute run time. At times it feels like someone’s standing on your chest and you’ll never be able to rise again, others like nothing on earth could ever keep you down. You’d do much, much worse than to give these gents your money and attention, and speaking of which – I’d better go check out the rest of their stuff now to see what I’ve been missing. Hails.

Leave No Path To Follow is out now in digital format. CD coming 27th December through Narcoleptica Productions, limited to 100 hand-numbered copies.


Purchase Krigsgrav‘s Leave No Path To Follow digitally from the band here, or pre-order a CD through Narcoleptica Productions here.

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