Grave Pleasures - Dreamcrash - (8/10)
Published on September 19, 2015
Of angst and apocalypticism.
The Helsinki-based post punk luminaires Beastmilk stirred up a lot of well-deserved attention with their brilliant 2013 debut Climax. Taking heavy inspiration from groups such as Joy Division, Killing Joke, and Samhain, the band successfully transformed classic 80’s death rock into a fresh formula, helmed by frontman Kvohst (Hexvessel, ex-DHG, ex-Code) and his charismatic voice. Beastmilk possessed skills and mass-appeal that seemed bound to lift them out from the underground, but then things rapidly came crashing down.
Earlier this year the band’s co-founder and guitarist Goatspeed departed due to creative differences, and drummer Paile soon followed. Beastmilk was no more, and from the still warm ashes arose Grave Pleasures. Kvohst and bassist Valtteri recruited new co-conspirators from like-minded groups; The Oath’s Linnéa Olsson, Oranssi Pazuzu’s Juho Vanhanen, and Uno Bruniusson, sticksman of the recently disbanded In Solitude. Wasting little time letting the dust settle, the newly invigorated band took to the studio to record what would become Grave Pleasures’ debut, glumly titled Dreamcrash.
Upon listening to Dreamcrash, it’s plain to see that the change of monikers was not done solely due to legal or other non-musical reasons. The blood-pumping and adrenaline-fueled songs that made up the bulk of Climax have taken a backseat, in favor of an often pseudo-psychedelic haze of tribal drums and textured musical soundscapes. It’s obvious that Goatspeed contributed significantly to Beastmilk’s songwriting, but Grave Pleasures seems far from a vanity project or solo vessel for Kvohst.
The first novel touch that sticks out on Dreamcrash are Vanhanen’s bizarre psychoactive guitars, which add a delirious touch to songs such as “Crying Wolves” and “Girl In A Vortex”. Although the lyrical themes still revolve around anxiety and apocalyptic dreams, the feverish shroud surrounding the album creates a dense atmosphere that was previously restricted to a few tracks such as “Nuclear Winter” and “Ghosts Out Of Focus”. Bruniusson’s tribal drums and the omnipresent psychedelic edge touches upon similar purple veins as The Cure’s Pornography, and Kvohst alternately channels Robert Smith and Peter Murphy, but the band manages to put their unique spin on it all.
Whereas Climax was bursting with immediately catchy numbers, here only “New Hip Moon”, “Futureshock”, and “Lipstick On Your Tombstone”’ are instant earworms. This means that Dreamcrash demands more attention from the listener, but the apocalyptic swagger remains. Having two guitarists gives additional room for subtlety and depth between the crooked smiles and sing-along choruses, and assures that Dreamcrash possesses lasting power. Balancing between gloomy ruminations and manic surges of energy, Grave Pleasures stride confidently forwards without losing sight of their clear 80’s influences.