REVIEW: Final Surrender – Empty Graves (2013)


Artist: Final Surrender

Album: Empty Graves


As humans, we are constantly pushing forward and attempting to progress. In fact, to call it a fascination or curiosity doesn’t do humanity’s commitment to progression justice—it’s truly an obsession. Not satisfied with boundless levels of scientific development and technological advancements made weekly, our addiction to progression has taken a firm hold of every aspect of life—including heavy music. That’s where Bangalore’s Final Surrender comes into play. Their latest release, Empty Graves brilliantly blends a marvelous cornucopia of incredibly varied musical influences—from traditional far-Eastern music to contemporary pulverizing metalcore—to bring a fresh, faith-filled experience to the listener. Wondrous, warbling vocals clash with visceral, immense screams and jarring, abrasive instrumentation to create an album which not only showcases a band at the peak of their genre, but at the peak of musical progression.

At the onset of “Refresh,” the listener truly has no idea the plethora of bizarre, yet beautiful musical combinations that are bound to be thrust upon them. As “Refresh” unfolds, and grating screams with stuttering stop-and-start breakdowns morph into a threnody of technical riffing and catchy cleanly sung choruses, Empty Graves begins to take shape. The shape it takes, however, is a perplexing one. To truly understand Final Surrender is to perform a 360-degree inspection at their musical stylings and the enormous variety of influences that they draw from. Vocally, they stride a narrow, precarious balance beam with the confidence of a practiced gymnast—but the violence and action of a cougar.  Grating, intense shouts and screams attack the listener’s ears, making punctual and perfected use of a mid-range harshness that would make August Burns Red’s Jacob Lurz proud. It’s tracks like “Not Done Yet,” however, that show where Final Surrender shed their sheep’s wool in favor of the fur and fury of a wolf. The band’s curious use of both metallic, crooned clean vocals and traditional, Indian singing catches the listener completely off guard. These accents of carefully—yet curiously—matched vocal styles are done in a manner which, rather than seeming forced, jumbled or contrived, sound marvelously rehearsed.

As the listener’s head is reeling from the calamitous sing-scream combination attacking their ears, the instrumentation continues the trend. The percussion is far above par-for-the-course, using break-neck kick drum and splashy, bouncy fills to provide a firmament of progressive metalcore for the listener to find solace in. However, the punchy, rolling bass and furiously-fretted riffs played overtop of the punctual percussion are anything but familiar for the listener. The riffs range from chug-heavy and down-tempo (more than friendly for a hearty headbang) to sky-scraping and intensely technical—a la Between the Buried and Me. Final Surrender flow smoothly from choppy, chuggy breakdowns to dazzling, dense shredding with a talent and practice that renders the listener temporarily stunned—until the infusion of Indian instrumentation kicks it up a notch. Nearly every track incorporates traditionally Eastern ethnic influences to accompany the unusual (but extraordinary) vocal elements with which they match so wonderfully. “Indeception,” one of the band’s smoother, subtler tracks does this especially well, as does the rampaging and rambunctious “Satori.” In fact, every track on Empty Graves, to some degree, makes use of far-Eastern influences in a manner which practically defines progressive metalcore as a genre.

We get it,” you’re probably thinking. “They’re a weird band. They’re progressive. Cool. But are they really worth checking out?

The answer is a resounding yes. “Indeception” is an enormously varied juggernaut that makes use of more vocal styles than I have fingers to count with. Furthermore, heavy, downtuned pounding of the bass and drums collides in a head-on catastrophe with shred-friendly fretwork that pulls from equal parts Meshuggah and Molotov Solution. Still not convinced? Then perhaps take the headstrong hit single “Refresh” for a spin. Filled with traditional metalcore and traditional Indian influence alike, it provides a structure and body that makes Empty Graves far from empty. Rather, Final Surrender prove they are capable of crafting an album which is seemingly endlessly packed with new and entrancing music that keeps the listener both hooked and constantly surprised at what the band manage to create.

Surrender yourself to the pervasive push towards progressive metalcore perfection—as Empty Graves is certainly a step in that direction. Packed with any number of off-kilter and unpredictable elements, Empty Graves is a true testament to what a few like-minded and miraculously talented musicians can manage to make. Final Surrender is mind-bogglingly heavy and mind-numbingly technical as well as…well, unique. If for no other reason, Empty Graves begs to be listened to just to fill the listener in on what they’ve been missing.



For Fans Of: Between the Buried and Me, Meshuggah, August Burns Red, Trivium

By: Connor Welsh.