Grave Pleasures were one of those bands that had been stuck on my ‘must check out at some stage’ list, until now. In case you weren’t aware of the history, they originally formed as Beastmilk back in 2010 and put out debut Climax after which came the name change as well as a string of subsequent releases. Plagueboys is the band’s fourth full-length album overall and the follow-up to 2017’s Motherblood.
Grave Pleasures who are based in Helsinki Finland, is the primary vehicle for vocalist Mat McNerney (Dødheimsgard, Hexvessel amongst others), but which also features long-time bassist Valtteri Arino, Juho Vanhanen, and Aleksi Kiiskilä (guitars) and Rainer Tuomikanto (drums). The artwork by Tekla Vály is according to the album’s promotional notes, evocative of the dystopian worlds of William Golding (Lord of the Flies) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and “help provide a backdrop to a new cold-war era”.
It’s almost like the 1980s never really went away.
‘Disintegration Girl’, with its tribal war style drumming immediately brings to mind Killing Joke, a deep influence and an artist they toured with recently. The rest of the track evokes the spirit of underrated London post-punkers The Sound with shimmering guitars and icy atmospherics. As a fan of the aforementioned artists, this exceptional opener bodes well for the rest of the record.
‘Heart Like a Slaughterhouse’ is like both The Sisters of Mercy‘s Floodland, (albeit not quite as melodramatic) and Siouxsie and the Banshees, making this quite the entrancing goth number. ‘When The Shooting’s Done’ with its rumbling bass and Krautrock Motorik style drumming recalls Joy Division, while the choruses are a little poppier, making it the kind of track which would have proved an ideal accompaniment to any number of eighties teen movies.
‘High on Annihilation’ with its glistening synths builds on the New Wave intonations of its predecessor and is brighter and poppier by comparison despite the grim lyrical subject matter. I was reminded of bands such as Flock of Seagulls and The Psychedelic Furs what with the wistful angst ridden vocals. A lovely number with which to see in the apocalypse. ‘Lead Balloons’ is a melancholic piece, almost Bowie-esque with its ‘Ashes to Ashes’ style vibes while ‘Imminent Collapse’ is yet more luscious danceable goth-infused pop that would have gone down a treat in any nightclub in the aforementioned eighties or even the present day.
‘Society of Spectres’ is a little quirkier with moments that resemble Oingo Boingo at their darkest and strangest ala ‘Dead Man’s Party’ especially with its nods to Danny Elfman‘s uniquely unconventional vocal style and ‘Conspiracy of Love’ the album’s longest track, is With Sympathy era Ministry (which I dig as it happens), and there’s even a little Gary Numan too for good measure.
‘Plagueboys’ betrays a Depeche Mode influence when that band were starting to grow increasingly bleak and early New Order too, meanwhile ‘Tears on the Camera Lens’ has you thinking of New Model Army who always had a folksy anthemic quality to their sound and one which proves ideally suited to conclude the album.
My first dabble with Grave Pleasures certainly won’t be my last and there wasn’t a moment on Plagueboys I felt was wasted or where my attention wandered. An excellent release that fans of vintage post-Punk / New Wave / Deathrock like myself will appreciate.
So what are ya waiting for? Check it out!
Buy the album here:
9 / 10