For Fans Of
Wollongong isn’t really the kind of place you would normally associate with immense breakdowns and heavy riffs, but in a sense, you could say that Graves are an anomaly. The five-piece recently inked a deal with Greyscale Records (who are wasting no time signing up high-quality bands) and with that, finally announced their debut album, ‘Monster’. Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, Graves are a band with a great deal of hype within Australia’s heavy music scene, so expectations for this were and still are quite high.
The opening track is ‘506’, which the band actually released as a single way back in mid-2014. The drums on this version are very present in the mix compared to the original, and vocalist Rhys Benn has definitely been working on his vocals from a dynamic standpoint since then. The song itself is of course very similar to the original recording with its high production value, except the band has slowed down the ending breakdown and somehow made it even heavier in the process. Somehow. It does seem oddly placed on the track list, considering it’s an “old” song.
Not long after, the title track begins with a guitar riff that would make Meshuggah green with envy and it’s a really cool touch. Skip forward a few minutes later and the lead single ‘Fear’ hits hard. I really believe this was the best choice for the album’s first single as it’s easily one of the best songs to be found on ‘Monster’.
While the album does fall into a set rhythm and flow of songs that you’d expect Graves to deliver, there comes a massive curveball in the form of ‘Kyden’. This song absolutely blindsided me with its moody guitar lines and haunting clean vocals, something that reminded me quite a lot of Deftones at their melodic best (i.e. the ‘White Pony‘ era). I definitely was not expecting a song like this from a band like Graves, but it’s damned cool. It also breaks the mold of the record after just six heavy songs. ‘Sick’ is also a very late highlight with it solid riffs and bloody monolithic breakdown towards the end while the closing track ‘Empty‘ admittedly feels forgettable aside from the ending section and the cleverly placed fade out.
Production wise, this record is pretty solid. But I suppose that having Sonny Truelove as your producer/engineer tends to really help in that regard. The guitars are clear and clean, which is a considering that they’re tuned so low, the drums sound very punchy and aggressive despite the kicks being a little too present in the mix at times. They’re definitely triggered to a degree but really, what isn’t these days, especially within this genre?
But while ‘Monster‘ is good, it is not without its drawbacks. The song structures, for the most part, are very similar, and this leads to the album dragging its feet a little in the back half. Of course, being a band like this and writing these kinds of songs means that there isn’t much wiggle room that can be made for the song structures and riffs. It’s a catch-22 in a lot of ways. I feel as if some bands really lend themselves to a live setting rather than their recorded work, and seemingly it’s these heavier, breakdown centric bands – such as Graves – that fall into this category. The most recent example of this that I can recall would be the new Knocked Loose album (bark bark).
I went into this record with a lot of expectations, and ‘Monster’ definitely met them. It’s no doubt in my mind that these songs are going to go absolutely off in a live setting when Graves perform most of them on their headline tour this December. However, ‘Monster’ is something that I won’t find myself listening to on repeat, bar a few of the stronger tracks. Like ‘Kyden’, that song’s rad!
‘Monster’ is out October 21st via Greyscale Records and it’s heavy as fuck.