|Early Graves @Ottobar 2012. Photo by M. Spiro|
At the time of the show, Early Graves only had two albums in their discography, We: The Guillotine and Goner. So I listened to a few tracks from those albums. I liked it alright; they kind of had a blackened thrash-core thing going on.
What I did not know before the show was that they had lost their original vocalist, Makh Daniels, in a tragic van accident while on tour in August of 2010. Daniels’ voice was deep and rough. Their new vocalist, John Strachan, has a slightly higher pitched and “thrashier” sounding voice. The vocals don’t make a completely different band but they are distinct.
What also did not know, though I could have suspected it from the songs I heard, was that Early Graves’ live performances completely destroy a venue. Everything about their performance that night–from the punchy drums to the crushing riffs and searing vocals–was a flaming ball of utter awesome aural devastation.
So it was with palpable excitement that I awaited the release of Early Graves third effort, Red Horse. I bought the digital copy from iTunes and devoured all 32.6 minutes of it twice in a row. Here is my quick and dirty impression of the album.
Hardcore and thrash are subgenres of metal that can be easily married. A bad marriage results in something barely listenable, but Early Graves merges styles with finesse. Songs like the title track “Red Horse,” with its literal galloping drum beat, possess the right amount of catchy melodic riffing framed by an appropriate structure of visceral brutality capable of branding the chords into your frontal lobe.
Other tracks like “Days Grow Cold” churn through each measure like a guitar-powered locomotive, that pauses briefly to let you reflect before rocketing off again. The track ends like an acoustic balad. Very surprising.
Another track, “Death Obsesssed” wormed its way into my psyche. I found myself playing the song repeatedly before moving on to the next track. There’s something sinister and looming in this song–maybe like death itself–and yet endlessly relentless. This song represents everything that I love about hardcore metal–raw vocals, desperate lyrics, riffs that grab you by the throat and drums that make you want to bang your head.
My favorite song on the album, “Quietus,” is also the longest track. The first two and half minutes plow forward ferociously like much of the rest of the album. Then the song spirals into this melancholic, almost doomy section. The music builds to a soaring crescendo and closes out the album on a thoughtful note.
On the whole, I found the eight tracks on Early Graves’ Red Horse to be thoroughly satisfying and packed with heavy hardcore goodness. As much as one can view hardcore as “catchy” Early Graves has figured out the formula while maintaining music that inspires a respectable mosh pit.
This album is masterful and brutally beautiful. Go check it out.
What other shows to you have scheduled either before or after MDF?
Thanks for sticking around all this time, GRIND ON!
Remember punk rock? Bloody Phoenix does. This grindcore, punk, ensemble hails from Los Angeles, California. They have been churning out screaming chunks of punk-flavored goodness since the fall of 2001. Their songs are long enough to get the mosh pit going but short enough to make sure no one gets killed.
Bloody Phoenix might be the band The Ramones would have become, had they taken the left hand path. There is no denying the punk rock roots in a song such as “Marching Into A Bottomless Well,” but the eerie vibe and death growl vocals reveal the true motivations here. Some reviewers describe this band as thrash core. That’s an interesting term. They just seem like balls-out punk rock to me. In researching this article, I really liked the 20-track album Death to Everyone from 2010.
Members include Jerry Flores (guitars), Michael Karubin (drums), Vito Tagliente (bass), and Molly Scarpine (vocals). Saira Huff from Question/RØSENKØPF/x-Detestation will be contributing guest vocals.
In an email, Flores said much of their setlist will come from Death to Everyone.
“Songs will vary… Mostly from our Death To Everyone LP as well as our split 7″ with Question and some new songs made for a 4-way split LP that will be coming out later this year. Possibly a couple of older songs sprinkled here and there,” Flores wrote.
As for the merch available from the band during the festival, Flores said to expect the usual. “Shirts, CDs, some vinyl, and possibly some pint glasses,” he said. Wait a minute… PINT GLASSES? WANT!!
So prepare for a raucous start to a long, long list of bands crushing through Saturday at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest. Get there by noon, as Bloody Phoenix takes the stage first.
Hailing from the land of Creepsylvania (or Oakland, California), Ghoul doesn’t have members so much as it has characters. The musicians performing as those characters have also played, without costuming of course, in other notable metal bands. Currently those characters include vocalist and bassist Cremator (Ross Sewage, who has appeared in bands like Exhumed and Wolves in the Throne Room), vocalist and guitarist Digestor (Sean McGrath from Engorged, Impaled and others), guitarist Dissector (Dan Randall, from Born Dead, Desolation), and drummer Fermentor (Dino Sommese, who has been in Dystopia, Lachyrmose and others).
In addition to the musicians, this group travels with a host of other characters who may show up to torment to audience. Ghoul’s arch-enemy is Kill-bot, a 10-foot tall bloody metal monstrosity with infrared eyes. The homicidal werepig Mutant Mutilator may be roaming the crowd on the hunt for nu-metal and post- metal posers who may be lurking among their fans, which they call numbskulls. The Curio Shoppe Owner will be on hand to provide the coffins, or maybe he’s just the merch guy.
Aside from the special effects and the showmanship, Ghoul offers head-bang-inducing, honest-to-goodness traditional thrash metal with a good bit of fantasy, comic book storyline and tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in. You will have a smile on your face, right before they kill you.
Enjoy this video, made in part by Agalloch drummer Asesop Dekker.
And the story of Kill-bot….