Saturday, March 28, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Hot Graves "Magnificent Death" (2015)

I stumbled across this band while reading through a list of available titles on an album mailorder. Hot Graves was listed as something like "Black/Death/Thrash/Punk/D-Beat" in style, so I was  immediately interested. I ordered the Demo Compilation 2008-2009 and haven't looked back since! The band does in fact bring all those influences into their music. In short, they encompass many of my favorite facets in underground, extreme Rock/Metal. I even managed to see them live at Saint Vitus Bar a few years ago in either late 2012 or early 2013, I believe. Apparentertly I was the only person there who wasn't already a friend of the band; they played the show in NYC because they have/had a large group of ex-Floridian friends in Brooklyn. At least, that's what Myk, vocalist and guitarist informed me; we had been in contact as I had just purchased a 7" from the band  and the plan was for me to pick it up at the show in lieu of mailing. Great show, and I highly recommend catching them if you ever get the chance; they are funny as fuck and high-energy. Pink guitars, constant stage banter and audience abuse; what's not to like?

Anyway, I want to actually get to the review portion. Hot Graves just dropped a new album, called Magnificent Death on Primitive Violence Recordings. There are 50 copies in a deluxe package including a large button and medium print of the album art with a dropcard of different artwork, a baggie, and (most importantly), a toy! As a (slightly) more controlled toy collector (than my younger years), any excuse to get a new figure is welcome, especially if I can merge it with my interest in music, MOST especially if it's a big dumb creature, like this one. Of note, it also glows in the dark! There's a lot more about it and links to order the new album as well as to the Hot Graves bandcamp via their facebook page.

As I continue to enjoy recording my initial response to the first listening of an album when doing reviews for the current year's album(s), I will continue the practice below. I think this will make for a more interesting 'Muscial Year In Review' post, as it will allow for a great opportunity to show how this year's albums aged. Right, so let's get to it!

I previewed the lyrics, "Witch Hammerspell seems to be a revenge song for a nasty breakup, "Perdition Noose" is about what it seems; bad times and consequences bringing you down. Very 'real' lyrics. "Ripshit" is pretty much what you'd expect: do what thou wilt and fuck the rest. The chorus of "In The Night" is one of Hot Graves' catch-phrases for a while, so I guess it finally became a song. "Jeweled Teeth" is about the destructiveness of greed. The Celtic Frost reference to "Jewel Throne" is not lost on me, I hope it isn't lost on Hot Graves in the music! "Blood Ov The Unpure" is pretty much 'fuck posers, you're worthless and a cesspool.' "Dead Wizard Mountain" appears to be about murdering hipsters. "Roach Pussy Crucifix" seems to be about self-destructive behavior and drug abuse. This one's likely very personal. "Death Promises" may also be about killing hipsters, but this one seems focused on someone in particular. "Rupturestorm" is about lying in wait for people who attempt to put you down and totally destroying them. "Our Cavalry (In The Night)" is on the surface about siding up with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, but seems to be a rallying cry for the band itself and maybe its fans around them.


The album starts off with "Witch Hammerspell" opens with a slow guitar riff, nice and crunchy for the tone, with some string bends and more of an almost early Iron Maiden type development of the riff... then it breaks into some more 80's crossover type development, alternates between this an the Iron Maiden riff to settle on the crossover one to carry the track until some solos kick in. Overall, very grim. Excellent start, 'gentle'men!

"Perdition Noose" begins with a quickening drum beat and a tough chord progression, speeds up into 80's hardcore Punk/D-beat awesomeness. Well-placed "Uh!"'s punctuate the song while a quick solo gives it some character. Tough throughout! Okay, now it slows down for something like a breakdown then drops back in only to break down quickly again with some heavy as lead chunks of guitar chords to close.

"Ripshit" follows closely on its heels with some chunks and a creepy background scream followed by some MetalPunk riffs with guitar squeals. It takes on a Venom/early Sodom dirty, simple Thrash style, which quickly becomes more Thrashy for the chorus. Nice scream on the last chorus repeat! Some drum fills lead into a faster beat as the guitar thrashes and returns to the chorus. It slows down into some chunk and breakdown, briefly, and then develops the main riff which breaks into a solo Slayer-style (in freakout factor, not skill or style). The main riff returns unaltered and Hot Graves closes it out on a slowed chord hold.

"Night Hag" starts with some slow guitar chords, almost Earth AD-era Misfits-esque. It speeds up and develops a bit, keeping in a Punk vein. Until it speeds up further then returns for a slower and nasty as all hell breakdown with guitar squeals and solo that'll have you making that 'I just smelled something rotten' face you make when the music is really vile (meaning really good).

"In The Night" begins with some unexpected twin guitar attack! This is after a main theme is developed. The song breaks it down a bit, then goes into some D-beat toughness for the chorus with some Black Metal-ish guitar overlays and accents. These come more in the forefront and the song takes on a mid-to-late 90's Black Metal style aping the Norwegians. It returns to its Punk roots and also drops a small solo to end.

"Jeweled Teeth" starts fast, but not yet like Celtic Frost. Good speed and feel though, tough and hardcore Punk-like. The main riff becomes more apparent and the song takes a Thrashier approach for the chorus. Back to the hardcore Punk for the bridge. It goes through some development and breakdown that initially made me think of English Dogs but I can't place the song... anyway it slows down the riff then the song gets big and epic, so maybe I wasn't off with the English Dogs thought. It takes on a more traditional Heavy Metal approach including twin guitars then some string/chord bending and a sort of English Dogs meets Motorhead part crops up, and we're done!


"Blood Ov The Unpure" opens with a loud, slow chord, is palm-muted, returns, builds and drops a D-beat to carry the song forward. Thrashy riffs take over with the vocals. MetalPunk through and through! It keeps it simple, playing only slightly with these riffs to propel the song, which is just fine by me. It does a little break after the 2nd chorus, with slow chord chunks, bordering on Doom Metal. It's really milking the slow riffs now. Working though, it sounds tough. Here we go, it speeds up! Alternates with a slow version of the riff, repeats, gets back into the earlier stylings, brings back the D-beat to close.

"Dead Wizard Mountain" weird little guitar intro to some mid-paced chords and D-beat to drum rolls, keep the D-beat, punkish chord progressions with some almost proto-Black Metal stylings that are probably more later, darker hardcore Punk in impetus. This continues to play out. Very obscure stylings, I'm digging it! The song takes a more crossover approach and drops a guitar solo to a cymbal solo (?) maybe it's just my cassette, brings back the D-beat and twin guitar harmonies/solos almost. Back to the obscure, Black Metal riffs, slows down. I think the end is in sight... yep!

"Roach Pussy Crucifix" an "UH" and a tough ripping riff start it off. This plays out in more of a Thrash Metal approach, drops a cool epic solo reminiscent again of English Dogs to me. The main riff returns and plays around a bit before some guitar harmonics with a slight echo show up... very nice! A variant on the initial riff returns, song ends.

"Death Promises" oh yeah, cool drum intro, Motorpunk going on here! D-beats carry the song on (appropriate isn't it, a Motorbeat turning into a D-beat?). I also hear some heavy GBH vibes here. Oooh a slow part! Tough, tough, tough. WHAT?! It gets tougher? Then it mellows with some harmonics.... SURPRISE return of the initial style... THEN twin guitar harmonies. It slows again with crusty, doomy riffs and a drum roll. PHEW!

"Rupture Storm" a mid-pace riff gets it going, I'm still recovering from "Death Promises." Okay, so the riff develops a bit, good but not standing out yet. Develops a bit to vary the song. D-beats are heard, the riff hardens up a bit, does a thrashy break for the chorus, has a freakout string bend, then gets TOUGH as overboiled meat, drops another freakout bend/squeal, gets TOUGH again, okay, I'm really feeling this song now! and... that's it?!

"Our Calvary (In The Night)" takes a more Misfits approach then speeds it up for some Metalpunk, returns to the Misfits riff, takes some primitive Thrash turns and slows after the chorus, gets a bit epic in scope almost like a punk band covering Viking-era Bathory, heavier on the punk. It becomes a bit more like early Sabbath-worship Doom Metal, including twin guitars playing the riff for thicker sound. I'm getting a whiff of Angel Witch and Witchfinder General here... It slows further but stays a bit melodic with some palm-mutes to cut off the riff abruptly. Still dooming out with its tomb out. And a chord plays out to close.

Immediate overall impression: a lot more punk influences present on this one, along with some, perhaps, NWOBHM ones, with the twin guitar stuff. Low brow, high brow? In any case, good album, it sounds like Hot Graves, but has definite development to set it apart from their other releases as well. It is exceedingly difficult to stay consistent but not stagnant and Hot Graves succeeds. We shall see how this album ages, it ranked high on my 'likely to be a top 5 release for 2015' mental list prior to hearing. Time will tell! But as I'm 'Out Ov Time' haha, stay stenchful until next time!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

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