it comes to obscure 80's Black/Death, the elusive GRAF SPEE album can
surely count as one of the rarest pieces ever released. Starting out already
in the mid 80's as a more traditional Metal band, they developed into
the most extreme Metal act in their home country of Uruguay. Before the
end of the decade they managed to get their debut album out on the only
record label in the country, which makes them label mates with the legendary
ALVACAST, but there the similarities end.
GRAF SPEE didn't let a few lessons short of musicianship stop them from
writing both brutal and intricate, rhythmically challenging music. Their
sound is hard on the nerves at first listening, and it takes a few spins
before you get into the songs and start to grasp their ideas. It's a mystery
where they got their influences from, because "Reincarnation" does not
sound like any other album of its time. The only comparison I can think
of would be Colombians REENCARNACION, but without the violins and sound
effects. I guess bands like MORBID ANGEL and NOCTURNUS also played around
with this kind of musical perversions at the time, but GRAF SPEE still
stood alone in their Lovecraftian 5th dimensional corner of Metal Space.
Despite their weak playing. Despite the awful production. On the subject
of the production btw: another confusing element of this record is the
difference in sound on side A and B. Side B is the strongest one with
a slightly more coherent rhythm section and less muddy mix. Here even
their fast moments, like the excellent "Kali Yuga", sound like
they could impress even those Deatheads not yet used to the chaotic South
American primitive sound. On the other hand, when they (try to?) blast
away in the beginning of "Freedom" it's really hard to tell
if it's genius or incompetence that makes the rhythm of this opening song
sound so dark and offbeat. Personally I find their doomy, twisted stuff
the most interesting, like the sick titletrack and the epic "Patala
Loca". With all those wailing riffs and chords feeling slightly out
of place, Victor's alternating between high and low growling and the unconventional
and foreboding cover art of the battleship Graf Spee in your mind, GRAF
SPEE can be very disturbing. Like being bullied and pushed around by spiky
black demons on your final bus ride down into the pits of Hades. Yes,
it is definitely something you need to hear. I think you'll like it too.
Thanx to "professor" Rainer K. I also got hold of a later demo
recording which somewhat clarifies the bands direction and aspirations.
The "Mother Fucker" tape of '92 is a great improvement as far
as production and musicianship goes, and fans of original, progressive
but brutal DM should keep an eye out for it on those tape trading lists.
Inevitably this recording doesn't reach the sick vibes of the LP, but
I guess you can't both have the corpse and eat it at the same time
2015 update: Check out the page on the Brigada Metalica compilation LP, featuring 2 exclusive GRAF SPEE recordings!