The lo-fi punk emitting from Grave Babies isn’t as bloodcurdling as their name would lead you to believe. Sure, their latest EP offering is titled Gothdamnit and comes complete with a disturbing album cover and tracklist, but you’ll quickly discover that their goth identity is one they’re actually looking to shed.
In fact, if their recent interview with Impose is any indication, Gothdamnit is really a means for Grave Babies to distance themselves from that label. As frontman Danny Wahlfedt told the website, “This whole thing is taking a big piss on all these alleged movements…and everyone who is making these things out to be new…We’re just having fun with that with our music and with Gothdamnit.” Grave Babies might just be having fun, but as they begin work on a full-length, it’s time to get serious, too.
Much of their 15-minute release sounds purposefully morbid. Their cemetery-inspired aesthetic gives rise to scuzzy guitars, the sharp crackle of reverb, and buried vocals. The abrasive, dirty nature of Gothdamnit doesn’t make for easy listening, but when the vocals are brought to the foreground, their sound doesn’t seem so intimidating after all. The cutting buzzes of guitars and constant blasts of drums are slightly tamed for group melodies to provide warmth that still manages to spook on “Mourning Heir”, while the vocals on follow-up “Nightmare” manage to break through the perpetual fuzz of a thrumming guitar line to create a track with vast appeal.
Unfortunately, the remainder of Gothdamnit doesn’t provide that same appeal. The glitching drums and restless screams of feedback that compromise the threatening “Bloodstains” are enough to draw listeners, but their continued usage becomes an overpowering detriment. “Fuck Off” and “Wasting” make use of varying tragic rings of guitars for interesting beginnings, but their inclusion with the other instruments ultimately muddies the melodies one wishes one could make out.
Gothdamnit provides enough grungy lo-fi to deliver a short shiver to the spine, but with their upcoming full-length, Grave Babies need a balance between their constructed instrumental unease and the often under-appreciated vocals that provide a much needed allure.
Essential Tracks: “Mourning Heir”