Grave Pleasures – ‘Motherblood’ (Century Media) Print
CD Reviews
Written by Rich Hobson   
Monday, 23 October 2017 04:30

Grave Pleasures MotherbloodWhere did all the goths go? Cast your minds back a little over a decade and goth was haute couture in alternative subcultures, the success of the likes of Cradle of Filth, Evanescence and HIM emboldening bands everywhere to take the black and explore the worlds of dark occultism and Lovecraftian horror in the pursuit of the blackest arts. Then came emo. Taking the imagery of the goth scene that came before it but fusing it with oh so much teenage angst, emo all but killed goth in its tracks, every act from AFI to Opeth shedding the dark romanticism that had so recently brought them fame, an entire subculture seemingly killed overnight. But, that was then. Now – black is back…


Formed at the start of the decade, Grave Pleasures are Finland’s finest purveyors in the art of darkness, mining moody post-punk veins that throw up comparisons to everyone from The Cure and Joy Division to Bowie at his darkest. The band’s third album ‘Motherblood’ dropped at the tail end of September and is a record oozing with the spooky pleasures of 80s goth tones, an album very much geared towards evoking that Black No. 1 nostalgia that you might be missing in modern rock and metal.


Much like their gothic forebears, Grave Pleasures exist in a space between the genres of punk, rock and metal, the only for-certain classification that seems to crop up again and again being its gothic influence. Opening track ‘Infatuation Overkill’ offers big guitars and more dark melodrama than you can shake a Hammer horror at, the song’s enormous chorus giving it a poppy edge which is sure to sell it to bigger audiences. This sensibility is a strong element to almost every song on ‘Motherblood’, each tune cocooned in moody guitar and bass, ready to spring forth like an aural facehugger, impregnating the listener with a whole host of earworm goodness.


It should probably come as no surprise that lyrically the album treads the fine line between ‘poetically dark’ and B-movie camp. Track two, ‘Doomsday Rainbows’ offers up a list of the kinds of things an edgy teen might recite to elicit a response from a worried parent – Charles Manson, schizophrenic thoughts, MK Ultra… You get the drift. Luckily, an enormous and well-crafted chorus saves the song from tumbling headfirst into Motionless in White like shock schlock, proving that you can get away with almost anything if you’ve got an ear for a great tune. Follow up ‘Be My Hiroshima’ is the perfect gothic love song, it’s dramatic and visually distinct lyrical content creating a vivid picture that proves to be a highlight of the entire album.


Imbuing their songs with a sense of the dramatic just enough to tantalise but never seem blasé, Grave Pleasures exercise masterful control over each and every song in ‘Motherblood’’s almost 37 minute run-time. One thing the band don’t particularly go in for is tonal variety – if you are looking for a record which will take you on a sonic journey ‘Motherblood’ probably shouldn’t be the first choice, the album finding a comfortably dark corner of the sonic plains and owning it. That doesn’t mean the band don’t enjoy some crossover appeal, however. The aforementioned pop sensibility lends the entire album a very easy accessibility that will likely appeal to the inducted and newcomers alike, while songs like ‘Falling For An Atom Bomb’ live just on the right side of jangly riffs to evoke comparisons to the Scandinavian indie rock scene of acts like The Hives and Royal Republic.



Motherblood reaches it’s gothic pinnacle with the appropriately titled ‘Atomic Christ’, a dissonant and theatrical slice of riffy rock which isn’t a million miles away from the likes of Ghost and their ilk. Taking less of a satanic approach, the song instead imagines a titular figure who will, much like his namesake, save us all. Feeling like an appropriate subject for a band who could very well fill the ranks of the vanguard of an all-new gothic assault on the worlds of rock, metal and punk. The success of the likes of Ghost and Creeper has proved that the appetite for all things dark and occult has most certainly not waned, both bands’ full-package deal of aesthetic, theatricality and sound capturing the imagination. There’s no denying that Grave Pleasures fit in with these bands in terms of imagery and aesthetic – if anything, their use of poetic imagery is superior to both of the above, the band weaving powerful tapestries with a strong underlying atomic theme.


The spectre of doom looms large over ‘Motherblood’, the album revelling in music’s darker corners of thought and sound. Yet, the album conjures some impressively victorious moments across its run-time, the enormity of its choruses and sonic pay-offs creating the sense of something that is well and truly comfortable in its own skin. ‘Motherblood’ is a record for bringing black back into the lexicon of the rock world, dark enough to make you dig out the eyeliner and nail polish but not so dark that you’ll be hanging around cemeteries thinking up demons to invoke – yet. And just in time for the holidays…


‘Motherblood’ is out now.  You can get your copy HERE.


Grave Pleasures play Damnation Festival on Saturday 4 November.  They also play the following dates:


Sunday 5 November – Brighton, The Hope And Ruin

Monday 6 November – Bristol, Exchange

Tuesday 7 November – London, Electrowerkz

Thursday 9 November – Glasgow, Garage Attic

Friday 10 November – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms


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