Californian d-beat/hardcore metallers Early Graves have been through their fair share of ups and downs in the five years since they formed in 2007. The most notable of these was the untimely passing of vocalist Makh Daniels in a van accident, just two months after the release of the Early Graves’s second album “Goner” in 2010. Whilst this tragedy alone would be enough for most bands to call it a day, Early Graves vowed to continue carrying Daniels’ memory in their minds and hearts. Taking over the vocal duties is long time friend of the band, John Strachan (The Funeral Pyre) who brings with him his own unique voice.
Early Graves are now back and raring to go, with a brand new album about to hit the stores. The new album, entitled “Red Horse,” comprises of eight ferocious tracks and will be released through No Sleep Records.
The opener ‘Skinwalker’ introduces itself gently and is a little more sedate than we are used to from Early Graves. However, the first minute and a half is merely the introduction and then the status quo is resumed. Strachan’s anguished growls may be different to the barks of Daniels’ but they are no less malevolent and fit the break-neck riffs and furious drums like the proverbial glove.
‘Misery’ continues at a relentless pace, Strachan’s voice now becoming familiar to the Early Graves backdrop. The guitar work on ‘Days Grow Cold’ is a highlight of the album, mixing melody with the neck snapping riffs before everything grinds to a halt, with a pained acoustic outro possibly echoing the turbulent times the band has been through
The title-track and ‘Apocolyptic Nights’ are both clearly stamped with the Early Graves hallmark. Machine gun drumming, fast jutting guitar riffs and pummelling vocals. Everything we’ve grown to love about them! ‘Death Obsessed’ has a reluctant groove about it. The pace is slower, which induces an involuntary nod where once a full on headbang would have occurred. It breakdowns even further later in the track before, finally, returning to a pace more familiar. ‘Pure Hell’ and ‘Quieteus’ throw off the shackles of ‘Death Obsessed’ and careen on through the sound barrier at Mach 1, with the occasional moment spent at walking pace.
Despite coming through adversity, Early Graves have pretty much picked up where they left off with “Red Horse.” It may not be the album of the year but I will be very surprised if doesn’t feature in most people’s end of year lists!