Release Date: Feb 25, 2013
Record label: Hardly Art
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Heavy Metal
Let's face it. Goth music is awesome, but as a genre it's dead. Death rock is awesome, but as a genre, it is mega-dead. Garage rock is awesome, but as a genre, it's way past dead. Hardcore is awesome, but it's mostly dead, with a few exceptions. Yet quite bafflingly, Grave Babies, which take ….
Seattle, WA's Grave Babies describe their music as the sound of "horrible things wrapped in hope." Indeed, the band's debut full-length, Crusher, plays like the soundtrack to a disturbing passage through a haunted house, one that's somehow guided by a glimmer of light at the end of the dark, twisted hallway. This veil of hope stems from the audible fact that Grave Babies don't take their particular brand of "morbid pop" too seriously. Within the grisly horror of Crusher's sludgy guitars and heavy percussion lies an omnipresent aura of fun.
Grave BabiesCrusher[Hardly Art; 2013]By Colin Joyce; March 19, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTheres this tendency amongst musicians spouting off influences to aim for the obscure. Drop a late '80s twee band who released a handful of limited press 7"s here, a little known German industrial band there, and you have this magic formula for mass critical fawning. Grave Babies' vocalist and brain trust Danny Wahlfeldt harbors no such pretensions.
Amidst the 21st century’s long tail post-punk revival, goth has tried—insidiously, proudly—to reinsert itself into the contemporary music conversation. From the Joy Division mannerisms of Interpol’s Matador debut to the neo-Cramps kitsch of the Horrors’s Strange House and on through the New Romantic retreads of She Wants Revenge, the sullen subgenre’s resurrection has frequently seemed imminent, skulking just around the corner. More recently, the plunging-neckline darkness of glum critical darlings like Tamaryn and Zola Jesus, as well as blog-fueled lesser fads like witch house, defensively portends that an alluring mix of clove cigarettes, decadence, and despair has its place in today’s indie discourse.
On Crusher, Grave Babies dig deeper into the scrawling lo-fi that caught the attention of Hardly Art. As the 2000s flipped to the teens, the "shitgaze" trend came and went (along with "witch house"), yet Danny Wahlfeldt permanently buckled himself in to an extremely overdriven style of brittle goth that was all the rage three years prior. It's a cheap, easy trick to intentionally overload a cassette to the red in order to blow out a song, but there’s no denying the effectiveness.
As we discovered on 2012’s Gothdamnit, you shouldn’t judge Seattle’s Grave Babies solely by their covers. Depending on your threshold for pig blood and black metal, that could be a good thing heading into their new disc, Crusher. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t expect some pummeling, guttural business (as the opener “I” suggests), but rather that there’s some varied depth behind it.
‘Crusher’ begins with a sound I can only describe as a massive ‘krengh’. It’s part heavy metal muscle, part manipulated ambient experimentation, and most importantly, a surprising cold open for what immediately follows: a pop song. This duality, dark and light at the same time, is a recurring theme in the music of Grave Babies, the solo recording project of Danny Wahlfeldt.‘Crusher’ has a way of alternating organically between pop songs and darker stuff without sounding inconsistent.