Grave Babies — Holographic Violence (July 24, 2015)♦−♦ Usilují o melodickou melancholii, ale je trochu zvláštní, že si nepovšimli vlastní krizi identity. Ne že by Grave Babies něco skrývali nebo tvrdě kopírovali, nicméně hypnotická shoegaze atmosféra a hustě zpracované, opakující hlasité vrstvené palby/hulby/kušby [(Punishment (Only A Victim)] působí, jako by sténal sbor mnichů v soudném dnu. Bezútěšná nuclear~power~violence. Pořád dost dobrý. Relativně nejvýstižněji je popsal The Seattle Times: “Zenový duch, bubblegumové srdce.” ... s dovětkem: dnes už nikdo nemá páru o tom, co Zen vůbec je a co je Bubblegum. ♦−♦ ♦−♦ “Reči sa vravia a chlieb sa je”, vravia Slováci. Preto nominácia.
♦−♦ Self–described as the Cure being played through a distortion pedal, these Seattle lo–fi goths keep it raw.Styles: Alternative/Indie Rock, Goth Rock, Experimental Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
Formed: March, 2009 in Seattle WA
Location: Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Album release: July 24, 2015
Record Label: Hardly Art
01. Eternal (On & On) 4:40
02. Beautiful Lie 3:33
03. Try 2 Try 4:55
04. Something Awful 3:48
05. Punishment (Only A Victim) 4:41
06. Metal Me 1:38
07. Pain Iz Pleasure 3:18
08. Positive Aggression 3:20
09. N2 Ether 2:45
10. Concrete Cell 3:55
11. War 3:20
℗ 2015 Hardly Art
♦−♦ Nick Barroletti Artwork
♦−♦ Matt Bavies Mixing
♦−♦ Bruce Brown Guitar (Bass), Percussion
♦−♦ Chris Common Mastering
♦−♦ Mark Gajadhar Drum Sequencing, Percussion, Producer
♦−♦ Grave Babies Artwork, Primary Artist, Producer
♦−♦ Eleanor Perry Band Photo
♦−♦ Daniel Wahlfeldt Drum Programming, Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
♦−♦ Hardly Art, brings us the latest from Seattle dark–wavers Grave Babies, a foursome that parrots the iconic Nirvana font for its T–shirts but doesn’t emulate grunge’s sound so much as its in–your–face, we–do–what–we–want attitude.
♦−♦ Like the group’s debut, 2013’s “Crusher,” “Holographic Violence” takes ’80s synthesizers, weirds them up with pitch–shifted vocals, chanted mantras and clanging guitars, then cranks everything to noise complaint–worthy levels. As its punny title suggests, the 11–track album’s doomsday imagery and the band’s whole dour vibe is a bit of a put–on — that’s just their shtick — but without liner notes that’s not entirely clear. The sequencing’s curious, too — the B side bests the A side, but some listeners may already be worn out by song three, the plodding, almost comically dejected–sounding “Try 2 Try.” At the moment, Grave Babies’ noisy navel–gazing is trendier than Strange Wilds’ no–nonsense Northwest rock, but also more polarizing — you’ll know pretty quickly whether it’s your thing or not.
♦ In the five years since Grave Babies’ debut album Deathface was released, founder Danny Wahlfeldt has been handling all songwriting and recording duties for the Seattle–based band, with invaluable help from friends in performing their material live. For their newest album entitled Holographic Violence, Wahlfeldt chose a different path, causing a significant change in the band’s overall sound. Holographic Violence is Grave Babies’ second Hardly Art full–length after Crusher (2013), and further explores the themes of nihilism, the pending doom of mankind, and shaming humanity, which the band has been building their gloomy reputation on since the beginning. This time however, instead of recording everything in his basement, Wahlfeldt enlisted the help of Bryce Brown (Crypts) on bass and Mark Gajadhar (Blood Brothers, Past Lives) on drums in the early stages of recording. The songs on Holographic Violence fell into place in Mark's studio on Orcas Island, Washington. Mixing was handled by Matt Bayles (Alice in Chains, Mastodon), with final mastering by Chris Common (Chelsea Wolfe, Mars Volta). As a final touch, Claire Haranda was added to the lineup on keyboards and synth to round out the band’s live sets. By leaving the edgy, lo–fi haze of earlier output in the past, these songs have clarified what the music of Grave Babies has to offer the future. That is, if humanity has a future? “I wanted it to be a last cry for sanity going into our dystopian future,” Wahlfeldt says about Holographic Violence. Grave Babies has long held a crush on morbidity, death, and corruption, building a romantic relationship around the juxtaposition of the dark contextual matter with hook–heavy songs rife with pretty melodies and harmonies. The 11 new songs on Holographic Violence present this powerful combination from a science fiction perspective, begging the question: has our imagination outpaced the confines of our reality as we keep going down the same path, believing there's hope? ♦ Playing anthemic pop songs with a strange male choir–esque sound to the vocals adds a distinctly cultish feel to the abrasive exercise of figuring out if it is possible to circumvent destructive human predispositions. Thus, Holographic Violence is a lesson in authenticity as we must look deeper into the subject matter for the finer details, instead of skimming the surface and believing we have things right at a mere glance. ♦ Maybe we just have to come to terms with the fact that the things that we're constantly running away from are inherent in ourselves and inescapable? Grave Babies mission is not to find the answers to these questions, but to challenge the listener and on Holographic Violence, their uncompromising aesthetic makes the suffering a little prettier. “Like Psychocandy–era Jesus and Mary Chain dressed as Throbbing Gristle for Halloween.” — The AV Club // “A dramatic, dark, and propulsive proposition.” — The Stranger // “Zen spirit, bubblegum heart.” — The Seattle Times // “Sometimes violent, sometimes ugly, and always bursting with the kind of passion that begets violence and ugliness.” — MTV Hive
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson; Score: ***
♦ Holographic Violence is the first Grave Babies album to be recorded in an actual studio and properly mixed and mastered, rather than slapped to cassette in leader Danny Wahlfeldt's basement. Previous Grave Babies recordings were so mired in grisly, ear–bleeding distortion that they nearly resembled V/Vm's infamous mangling of "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Now the layers of scuzzy feedback are gone, and Wahlfeldt's deep baritone voice rings out clearer than ever. While still dark and dingy, the relatively cleaner production brings the group closer to sounding like its '80s deathrock heroes, while the overly dramatic bent and tongue–in–cheek song titles like "Pain Iz Pleasure" recall a less metal, lower–budget version of Type O Negative. The group shows that it isn't stuck in the past (be it the goth '80s, the alt–metal '90s, or the late–2000s lo–fi cassette boom) by including a few up–to–date production effects, particularly the subtle influence of trap–style beats on the drum machine programming. On a few tracks, particularly "Concrete Cell" with its slowed–down, chopped & screwed vocal bridge, they even conjure up memories of witch house trio SALEM. The group pushes things even further into the haunted funhouse on album closer "War," which features sinister pitch–shifted laughter, low–slung metal riffing, and Alice in Chains–like singing. As nihilistic and doom–and–gloom as the band's lyrics are, they're cloaked in strong melodies, particularly on "Something Awful" and the chiming, crystalline "Positive Aggression." The overall result is a forward–looking album drawing from dark, foreboding sounds from the past, and it's a decent, spooky listen, if a bit hard to take seriously at times.
Artist Biography by Jason Lymangrover
♦ Seattle, Washington lo–fi goth artists Grave Babies started making music in 2009 when Danny Wahlfeldt, the de facto leader of the group, started recording songs in his basement with keyboardist Tyler Robinson. Drummer Keith Whiteman and bassist Mitch Saulsberry joined up for live shows, and after releasing their debut, Deathface, on Denmark label Skrot Up, the group signed to Hardly Art for a couple singles (Pleasures and Gothdammit) and released Crusher in 2013, which Wahlfeldt described pretty accurately as sounding like the Cure being played through a distortion pedal. For the group's next record, Wahlfeldt ventured out of his basement and recorded with drummer Mark Gajadhar at his studio in Orcas Island, Washington. Bryce Brown contributed bass, and the recording was mixed by Matt Bayles and mastered by Chris Common. The resulting album, Holographic Violence, was Grave Babies' most polished and accessible work yet, and Hardly Art released it in July of 2015. ♦ http://www.allmusic.com/
By Chris Mincher Jul 24, 2015 12:00 AM; Score: B+
Tony Clayton–Lea; Score: ***