Back in 2010, Beastmilk were on the rise with the release of their demo White Stains On Black Tape. The band from Finland, with an impressive line-up featuring Kvohst (Hexvessel, ex-Code and ex-Dodheimsgard), Valtteri Arino, Linnea Olsson (ex-The Oath), Johan “Goatspeed” Snell and Paile, was putting together a disturbing vision of apocalyptic post-punk. The result of this concept was the debut album of Beastmilk, Climax, which brought perfectly the elements of new wave, post-punk, modern rock, death rock together under a blackened mantle. However that would also signal the end of Beastmilk, at least in terms of the name and the line-up of the band.
Goatspeed parted ways with the group, but the remaining members did not remain static. Kvohst, Arino and Olsson changed the name of the band, or created a new band, does not really matter how you see it. And here comes Grave Pleasures, which seems to be an enhanced version of Beastmilk, since the line-up of the band is complete with the addition of Juho Vanhanen (Oranssi Pazuzu) and Uno Bruniusson (ex-In Solitude) on guitars and drums respectively.
Despite shedding their previous name, the beast that is Grave Pleasures follows down the path they started as Beastmilk. The album might be filled with everything that made Climax such a great album, but the band does not just recycle their previous album. Dreamcrash is a more dense composition, a more complex offering than its predecessor. And it seems as if the darkened quality of Climax has given way to a more feverish ferocity.
That feral sound is found straight in the start of the album, with “Utopian Scream” kicking things off in an explosive manner. This in your face attitude is revealed even further with a more garage rock styled track, “Futureshock,” really adding to the anger and anguish of this record. “Taste The Void” verges towards modern rock, which comes with a fair amount of fury and a lot of energy, as the rhythm section brings one of the more upbeat moments of the album. The catchiness of the song as a result is contagious, something that is also apparent in “Lipstick On Your Tombstone.”
What has been the most destructive weapon in the band's arsenal makes an appearance here as well: hooks! In Dreamcrash they do not appear to the same extent they did in Climax, but their quality is undeniable. “New Hip Moon” can be considered a hook in its entirety, while the more pop-esque parts of “Taste The Void” and “No Survival” are laid out brilliantly. Originating from the great vocal performance of Kvohst, which shows great versatility, from the imposing voice in “Crooked Vein” to the more raw and urgent delivery in “Futureshock,” the impact is unavoidable. But, equally important is the addition of some absolutely sick melodic lines, that just creep in at the right time and in the right manner. In “New Hip Moon” they take on a more delicate personification, resulting in some beautiful melodies, something that also occurs in “Crooked Vein.” In a more haunting manner, this aspect of the band can be twisted to darker corners of their music, something that results in the more claustrophobic quality of “Crisis” and “Girl In A Vortex.” However, there is also the more poisonous aspect of Grave Pleasures. The parts in the beginning of “Crying Wolves, ” as well as the venomous guitar lines of “Lipstick On Your Tombstone” reveal an uglier face of the band.
It is that more edgy nature of Grave Pleasures that brings in a slight psychedelic touch at some instances of Dreamcrash. The psychedelic elements of “Worn Threads” come with the bitter acid taste of their guitar melodies, creating an interesting twist in their music. Alongside some cool effects on the background, as is the case with the delays of the opening track, the band is able to bring their dystopian, post-apocalyptic vision one step closer.
However, there is also a lot of post-punk to go with this dystopia. The ferocious start of “Utopian Scream” soon makes a turn for that old-school '80s vibe. The band explores that type of rhythm and melodies a number of times in Dreamcrash, resulting in great tracks such as “Girl In A Vortex,” and in a slightly darker vibe with “Crying Wolves.” One of the highlights of this mentality from the band has to be though the mysterious aura that “Crooked Vein” transmits, before it starts to drift towards the more melancholic side of Grave Pleasures.
It is that darkness and that sense of melancholy that round up the musical palette of Grave Pleasures. The post-punk washes into a deathrock approach which really darkens the mood of the album. “New Hip Moon” does feature a touch of this side of the band, even though it is a weird mix, with its more upbeat pace co-existing with a darker and more gloomy feeling. “Crisis” is another excellent example of that mournful quality of the band, with its slow pace, sorrowful vocal lines enriched by beautiful guitar melodies within its dystopian setting.
Dreamcrash comes after a huge album. Comparisons therefore are unavoidable, and even though the band does not step away from their past, they do not regenerate it either. Dreamcrash is not as catchy as Climax was, but it sees Grave Pleasures going into more depth with their musical structures, creating an album that is slightly more challenging, without losing their identity in the process.
7.8 / 10
Grave Pleasures is the evolution and continuation of Beastmilk. Back in 2013, the project led by Mat “Kvohst” McNerney, released Climax, a record combining the post-punk nostalgia, the darkwave influence along ...
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