Grave Pleasures – Motherblood (Released September 29, 2017 – Century Media Records)
One of the most interesting and simply catchy bands I have ever had the pleasure of listening to was a short-lived group from Helsinki, Finland called Beastmilk. Their 2013 opus, Climax, has been on non-stop repeat in my listening queue for the past 4 years and I have yet to tire of their silky smooth refrains and simplistic yet earworming riffs. Promptly breaking up after Climax, Beastmilk took on a new life as Grave Pleasures with Mat McNerney and Valtteri Arino continuing on with the additions of The Oath guitarist Linnéa Olsson and drummer Uno Bruniusson. Grave Pleasures debut, Dreamcrash, was one of my most hotly anticipated titles of 2015. I had listened to Linnéa’s other work in The Oath, and that equally short-lived group’s self-titled debut was good occult rock but, held none of the post-punk pleasures of Climax. Although hotly anticipated I did enter the album with some tentativeness and to much truth Dreamcrash could hardly hold a candle to the post-punk torch that was Climax. Learning that Grave Pleasures was returning for a second kick at the can with a revamped lineup, both Linnéa and Uno on the way out for Aleksi Kiiskilä and Rainer Tuomikanto, respectively, left me with many of the same thoughts as when Dreamcrash dropped into my listening bin. Can Motherblood return Grave Pleasures to its silky smooth roots that were Beastmilk or is Motherblood the final nail in the coffin for Grave Pleasures? Finally cementing Climax as the uncontested greatest post-punk release ever? (Pending a listen to Rope Sect’s, Personae Ingratae.)
I was tentative through the first half of Motherblood as, although disappointing, Dreamcrash did carry a good tune or two, New Hip Moon and Girl in a Vortex come to mind, amongst a gaggle of meh-ness. Unlike Dreamcrash, Motherblood continually delivered. Track-after-track I was waiting for the downtick but it never came. Opening with a shot to the jugular, Infatuation Overkill, and changing it up at just the right moments, Atomic Christ, Motherblood was an unending ride of joy. Foot tapping and head bobbing, Grave Pleasures struck, again and again, laying out the hits and never letting up. Each track brimmed with a swagger and charisma that was impossible to ignore. The pure victory of Be My Hiroshima’s soaring melodic vocals to the swashbuckling of Deadenders to the cocky indie riffing of Falling for an Atom Bomb every note struck with grace and joy. These are the guys your mumma told you to stay away from and this time around they failed to disappoint; kicking the sophomore slump directly in the balls.
I wanted Motherblood to be great so badly after the utter disappointment that was Dreamcrash and it delivered in spades. Climax will maintain its place as my favourite post-punk release due to pure nostalgia but Grave Pleasures have re-found the energy and excitement of Beastmilk. .
I dare you to not enjoy this.