It was a bummer when Second Grave announced their disbandment in 2016, especially since the news came almost immediately after the release of their promising full-length debut Blacken the Sky. Fortunately, vocalist/guitarist Krista Van Guilder and bassist Maureen Murphy have formed a new trio with drummer Brian Benfield. With this in mind, it’s pretty hard to see Benthic Realm as little more than a Second Grave extension, and their three-song debut EP doesn’t do too much to discourage this notion.
Those acquainted with Blacken the Sky will find many of that album’s traits on here. The guitars have a similarly grungy tone, the riffs are mostly based on slowed down grooves, and the vocals cut through everything in a husky yet melodic fashion. In addition, the mid-tempo riff riding on “Don’t Fall in Line” recalls “No Roam” and “Where Serpents Dwell” has an epic buildup like that of “Below the Seas” or “Death March.” There don’t appear to be any growled vocals incorporated, but they aren’t exactly missed either.
That said, the track order on here does feel a bit disjointed. The building nature of “Awakening” makes it seem like it’ll be a solid opener but it doesn’t quite demand one’s attention in a way that “Where Serpents Dwell” likely would have been in its place. But when an EP like this seems to be set up as an indicator of what it is to come as opposed to a standalone release, there’s no sense in getting too worked up over track order.
Benthic Realm’s debut EP is a solid introduction when viewed on its own terms and likely would’ve been a pleasant filler release if it had been released under the Second Grave moniker. The songs offer plenty of that band’s grungy traditional doom and it provides a notion that the band will live on in some fashion. Whether the songs on here make it onto another release or not, it’ll be quite interesting to see how Benthic Realm makes it distinct on future efforts.
“Where Serpents Dwell”