Grave Pleasures


Written by: AP on 16/09/2015 18:12:28

Grave Pleasures rose from the embers of Beastmilk early this year when the latter’s members, sans guitarist Johan ‘Goatspeed’ Snell, decided to continue under a new moniker, introducing a replacement for Snell in Juho Vanhanen, who also plies his trade in the experimental black metal group Oranssi Pazuzu. Provided you have heard Beastmilk’s first and only album “Climax”, this ‘debut’ outing by Grave Pleasures will not offer a slew of surprises but if, like most, you found yourself intrigued by the fusion of post-punk and gothic rock professed on the aforementioned record, rest assured that “Dreamcrash” continues to build on those same foundations.

In liaison with a relentlessly melancholy atmosphere, the album's post-apocalyptic theme (more specifically, vocalist Mat 'Kvohst' McNerney's idea that we as a species are aware of our inevitable self-inflicted demise, how this affects the way humans live their lives, and the macabre romanticism of it all) paints "Dreamcrash" in distinctly 80's colours, an impression enhanced by both McNerney's somber tone in the verse, and the reverb laden production into which Tom Dalgety (known for his work with Killing Joke) has wrapped the music. There is a cool nonchalance to the record's eleven tracks that never sounds pretentious, giving Grave Pleasures a certain odd resemblance to bands like Editors and Interpol, though strictly speaking, the nature of the music places them in territory much nearer the likes of Danzig, Echo & the Bunnymen, Misfits and, incidentally, the aforementioned Killing Joke. Yet Grave Pleasures never sound like a product of their idols; rather, the influences are harnessed with a master's touch, resulting in a handful of unforgettable moments like the lead single "New Hip Moon".

That track is of the rare caste with the ability to mesmerise the listener with no more than an initial few plucks of the guitar (courtesy of Linnea Olsson); these then morph into its signature melody as Uno Bruniusson's crashing drums merge in, and the pained grandeur of McNerney's singing "I'm falling for a new hip moon. But I know, bitter tears will fall as intoxication grows" in the chorus delivers exactly the sort of resolution one expects from an expertly penned song. Indeed, it is through the application of this simple, pop friendly formula to the wistful and pensive mood in governance, that Grave Pleasures truly live up to the hype. The hypnotically looping percussion of "Crying Wolves" and the raucous punk discharge of "Futureshock" serve to generate the necessary diversity, but quality tracks though they are, neither holds a candle to "Lipstick on Your Tombstone" or "Girl in a Vortex" in terms of lasting value, both of which deploy effective hooks for latching themselves onto the neurons that comprise one's memory, yet never compromise their relevance in terms of atmosphere to the grander scheme of "Dreamcrash"'s concept.

The long winding, slow burning balladry of "Crooked Vein" has proven a revenant as well - at least in this scribe's notebook - but honestly, if you picked up "Dreamcrash" expecting an album bursting with highlights, the amount of robust but never awe-inspiring picks littered among the instant hits might produce a rather sour taste. Certainly "Dreamcrash" is unable to parallel the quality of its 'predecessor' "Climax". For anyone with an interest in post-punk, gothic rock or darker indie-rock though, there is nonetheless plenty to be excited about in the subleties and scattered eruptions of grandeur that Grave Pleasures have injected into the package. Should the Helsinki, Finland based outfit choose to concentrate on their strengths, there is still much potential to be unravelled for future endeavours.


Download: New Hip Moon, Lipstick on Your Tombstone, Girl in a Vortex, Crooked Vein
For the fans of: Beastmilk, Echo & The Bunnymen, Editors, Killing Joke
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.09.2015
Sony Music Columbia

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