Metal Hammer (UK) - - Albums - DOM LAW­SON

Apoc­a­lyp­tic party starters re­turn to their glo­ri­ous ground zero

Metalheads are a

sur­pris­ingly frag­ile lot. When Grave Plea­sures re­leased their de­but al­bum, Dream­crash, in 2015, a huge num­ber of peo­ple thought it was fuck­ing great. An­other bunch of peo­ple were still too up­set about the demise of the band’s revered ear­lier in­car­na­tion, Beast­milk, to con­tem­plate em­brac­ing a new mu­si­cal dawn with sim­i­lar en­thu­si­asm. Beast­milk were phe­nom­e­nal, of course, and had a much bet­ter name. As a re­sult, when Dream­crash didn’t quite hit the same ec­static post-punk heights as 2013’s widely adored Cli­max, tears were shed and death knells were pre­ma­turely sounded.

The good news is that Beast­milk diehards can now stop boo-hoo­ing into their Bauhaus box sets. Put sim­ply, the sec­ond Grave Plea­sures al­bum is much, much bet­ter than the first and proves be­yond doubt that the ab­sence of two fifths of that orig­i­nal line-up was not the rea­son Dream­crash re­ceived such a mixed re­sponse.

The key to this re­turn to blaz­ing top form is twofold: firstly, these are sim­ply much bet­ter songs than any­thing found on Motherblood’s pre­de­ces­sor; se­condly, and most im­por­tantly, that glo­ri­ous, mag­i­cal rush of dark sex­ual aban­don that made Cli­max such an ad­dic­tive thrill­ride is back in vast, be­wil­der­ing quan­ti­ties. That much is ob­vi­ous a few sec­onds into tooth-rat­tling opener In­fat­u­a­tion Overkill. To some de­gree, Grave Plea­sures do still sound like a tur­bocharged, metal-tinged Joy Divi­sion, but thanks in part to Mat McNer­ney’s tremu­lous bellow and a ra­zor-sharp re­frain, they now sound far more like, erm, a tur­bocharged Beast­milk.

Both Dooms­day Rain­bows – quite pos­si­bly the most goth song ti­tle of all time – and the ex­plo­sive, in­stantly mem­o­rable Be My Hiroshima sound like fu­ture clas­sics, their in­fec­tious mo­men­tum, suf­fo­cat­ing bar­rage of gui­tars and gi­ant, grimly in­spi­ra­tional cho­ruses hit­ting the mark with lethal accuracy. For stu­dents of the post-punk era, Fall­ing For An Atom Bomb sounds like an out­take from agit-rock leg­ends Gang Of Four’s 1981 al­bum, Solid Gold. For ev­ery­one else, though, it’s an­other killer song for bro­ken-hearted mis­an­thropes with a swivel-hipped groove that just won’t quit. Even more ir­re­sistible is Atomic Christ, which be­gins with some un­hinged psy­che­delic po­etry be­fore erupt­ing into the mother of all ex­is­ten­tial hoe­downs. Plum­met­ing into obliv­ion’s drool­ing maw has never sounded more ap­peal­ing. Both Dead­en­ders and Haunted Af­ter­life are pos­sessed with the malev­o­lent, twang­ing spirit of psy­chobilly, al­beit fil­tered through a prism of snarling psy­chodrama, and both will make you want to run straight through a brick wall. Motherblood is that kind of record. Even the clos­ing song There Are Pow­ers At Work In This World, which spite­fully robs this party of a hope­ful con­clu­sion, gets the bal­ance be­tween mad-eyed ex­hil­a­ra­tion and trou­bled emo­tional depths ex­actly right.

If there is a down­side to this un­equiv­o­cal tri­umph, it’s that there isn’t a great deal of variety on of­fer here, but then when you can make peo­ple feel like they’ve been plugged into the mains, why would you do any­thing else? Grave Plea­sures do it 11 times on Motherblood and that’s no kind of anti-cli­max.


Grave Plea­sures are stag­ing the mother of all come­backs

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