When a band tosses out a five song EP, such as Grave Babies have done with Gothdammit, it’s often difficult to see it as much more than a stop gap along the way to the next album. But, regardless of where this lives in the band’s on-going catalogue, there are definite steps being taken here towards positive progression.
“Fuck Off” is the start to this rather short affair, but in the matter of time, it’s the longest, although you could easily skip beyond the first minute or so; the band uses the moment as an intro, but you can hear the crackling of the stereo that takes a large precedent over the recording. When the song kicks in, however, it’s just this delicious post-punk moment, possibly hinging upon “goth.” Brooding bass lines definitely benefit the sound, with the drums seeming a touch to hollow and metallic; this is my stand out track on the EP.
Musically, I dig the following track, “Mourning Heir,” particularly that lofty guitar line, but this is the track where I think the recording process began to lose a little bit of the plot overall. There’s something about the shotgun sounding drums that just doesn’t do the live show, nor the record itself, any justice. It ends up sounding muddied like the band blew your speakers out. A bit of the composure returns for the third track, “Nightmares,” with the pop senses taking a bit more of a leading role on this song in comparison to the heavy hitting drums. Listening closely, you’ll see that there’s musical genius lurking just below the surface. Then the band seem to get move in another direction…entirely.
With the first three tracks dabbling in noisier, goth-affected post-punk, the last two songs seems more to delve into sonic exploration. They’re not nearly as focused on the songwriting here, relying more upon heavy chant-like vocals as on “Bloodstains.” And “Wasting” seems to regain a touch of the songwriting capabilities, but it’s still not quite up to par with the three primary tracks featured at the onset–perhaps it’s just too short to really find its groove.
You see, this is the problem with EPs like Gothdammit: you find some great moments that get you really excited; you also find some areas where execution could be much stronger. Personally, I think there’s a good future (and a good market) for a more concise version of the first three song–maybe cleaning up the drum sound. Should they choose to go in that direction, things could get big real fast. Should they choose to go in the other direction, there’s a market there too—either way, I’m sure they’re good, I just have my preference.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/GraveBabies_Nightmare.mp3]
Download:Grave Babies – Nightmare [MP3]
Gothdammit is out now on Hardly Art.