Grave Babies – Crusher

GraveBabies_LP1Rating: ★★★½☆

It seems like Grave Babies have been fighting back against the various all-inclusive genre tags that have been thrown their way, though you might not be able to tell that by listening to their latest effort, Crusher.  So before you venture into their world, put all your preconceived notions aside and just listen carefully.

Crusher‘s intent is apparent upon the first instrumental track, “I,” that begins your listening experience. It’s a wall of feedback and noise, looping in your ears with a distorted vocal creating an odd sense of calm before the band breaks into “Over and Under Ground.”  It’s a thunderous track, with pounding drums and anthemic vocals, though you’ll have to listen through the haze to realize this is a pretty simplistic pop song.  You speed it up, clean it up a tad, and you’ve got a nice little power-pop track hanging in there.  Such tendencies are the specialty of Grave Babies throughout their album, creatively blurring the lines between traditional pop and modern noise.  This is much the same approach they use a few songs later on “Skulls,” which has some sonic similarities to what Mike Sniper has been doing with Blank Dogs.  But, the difference here is in the pronounced crispness of the drums, which breaks through the onslaught of guitar noise coming through your speakers.

Personally, I’ll admit to the affecting moments when the band takes a softer approach.  However, the group doesn’t ever go near being too soft; I’m referring to their ability to pull back on the audial barrage of noise.  “Slaughter” trudges along beautifully, fueled by a darkly dancing guitar line.  While the vocals might seem a bit distant in the mix, it’s inevitable that you’ll see the pure harmony in their tone–this isn’t just a noisy record; it’s brimming with an inner beauty. It’s similar to “Death March,” which appears further on down Crusher’s track-list.  Everything moves at a slower pace on this tune, though you can clearly see how the band could go either way…they could speed it up and make it clean, or they could mess with you and just draw the song out slower. This is part of the enchanting part of Grave Babies; they have this unique ability to toy with every preconceived notion you’ve got in your head.  I love the way “Death March” unnoticeably moves into “Haunted, with both songs seeming to come from some kindred spirit.

Listening through the entire album might be grating on your ears, but this is the only way you can guarantee safe passage through the blurred lines that Grave Babies have presented you with on this release.  Is a song like “Hate Repeats” just a ballad disguised as some ghoulish piece of artistic noise rock? Well, you’ll have to make that out for yourselves…that’s the mystique and intrigue that you’ll get to live with as soon as you press play on Crusher.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/GraveBabies_OverAndUnderGround.mp3]

Download: Grave Babies – Over And Under Ground [MP3]

Crusher is available now from Hardly Art.

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