GRAVE, Screaming from the Grave / Dreamer (1983, self-released)
We see a lot of badly drawn skulls here at Skull HQ, but this is not one one them. No, this is one of the most awesomely drawn skulls we’ve come across. He’s weirdly deformed, as if he’s frowning so hard his entire face has started to collapse into itself, and his teeth are carved into little skulls themselves! What a badass grill! This skull is a fairly perfect encapsulation of the competing draws of heavy metal: the danger and the fun. It’s a mean-looking, angry skull, but at the same time, no one would take this guy too seriously. He’s not scaring anyone, and we love him all the more for it. I also love the many elements of the logo: the scroll, the spider web, the dripping blood, and the letters that look like carven stones in a desert. It presages Death’s peerless logo for the number of gimmicks attempted at once. Total genius.
This is not the Grave you’re thinking of, but they are Swedish. This Grave played the NWOBHM-inspired metal that was quite common in Sweden back then (and which is sometimes called FWOSHM), and they did it quite well. This self-released single contains two high energy tunes with catchy vocal lines, pretty good singing (for an early Swedish band), and some nice keyboard work (Hammond and synth). This is hardly essential stuff (and the band broke up after one more demo, leaving precious little in the way of a legacy), but if you’re into this sort of thing, Grave are surely better than a lot of the other obscure crap you listen to.
— Friar Johnsen