If you haven’t heard the latest release from Graves at Sea, it may be time to make some changes in your life. The Curse That Is may be the best debut full length to come out this year. If not the best, then definitely the most anticipated. I’m not one for pre-ordering albums, mostly due to my shoddy memory, but this was one I immediately grabbed when I saw it was available.
Graves at Sea have been around for awhile and they are finally gaining some of the recognition they deserve. They were recently picked up by Relapse Records and their latest release is 75 minutes of neck-ache inducing gritty doom. Drummer, Bryan Sours and bassist, Jeff McGarrity lay down the molasses thick rhythm while guitarist, Nick Phit keep the songs moving with his winding and hypnotic guitar. My favorite part of this album are the vocals, compliments of Nathan Misterek, who’s sound ranges between deep and menacing to raspy and aggressive.
The opening track, “The Curse That Is” clocks in around eleven minutes but feels like two given how quickly it wraps you in and draws you down a dark depressing hallway where you most likely will get your ass kicked at the end. Although “The Curse That Is” might be a good representation of what this band is capable of, I think their most promising tracks are “Tempest” and “The Ashes Make Her Beautiful.”
“The Ashes Make Her Beautiful” is a heavy yet melancholy track incorporating violin and acoustic guitar. It is raw both musically and emotionally and I think this particular track stands out the most amongst others. The punctuated, anvil-like percussion mixed with subtle violin that weaves in and out like a ghost, really shows the breadth of what this band is capable of creating.
“Tempest” is a bit more hard hitting and immediately kicks you in the groin within three chords. This was the very first track I heard from the album and subsequently the reason I jumped on the pre-order, aside from the luscious blue and bronze vinyl they offered. It’s easy to get caught up in this song between the monster guitar and angry vocals.
We had the good fortune of getting to see these guys live on their brief US tour. We weren’t satisfied to only see them once at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly so we caught their show the next night at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. They set out on this tour with support from Order of the Owl, the self-proclaimed growling beast from Atlanta, Georgia.
Order of the Owl played some older tracks from their 2012 release, In the Noon of the After Day such as “Bandsaw” and “Cocaine Super Demon.” Bassist and vocalist Brent Anderson stood stooped, long hair covering his face growling into the mic as he played, reminding me of a character from a David Lynch film. Between gulps of PBR and a shot of whiskey stealthily brought to the stage by tourmate Nick Phit, Order of the Owl delivered an unrelenting set that wet your palette for the main course, otherwise known as Graves at Sea.
When I say earplugs won’t save you from Graves at Sea, I mean it. They are loud. And I mean loud. You can have the best earplugs stuffed in your ears and you will still see people in the crowd looking at each other and trying to decipher what the other is saying at the end of their set. If you know Graves, you will know that people are mouthing “That was fucking loud!” I was mildly amused after their set at Saint Vitus to look around and see people shaking their heads and smiling at the auditory assault they just endured before flocking to the merch table.
These guys play every song and every note as if it was their last. If you don’t believe me, try to count how much drumstick shrapnel goes flying during a single set. Graves at Sea leave everything on the stage and I think gained a lot of new followers due to this fact.
They opened their set with the title track, “The Curse That Is” as well as a few other new songs such as “Tempest” and “Dead Eyes.” By that point, they had the crowd hypnotized and continued with some older tracks such as “Betting on Black.” My favorite song of the set was their last, “Pariah.” It’s one of those songs that puts you in a trance with it’s sludgy, methodical rhythm.
I hope that Graves at Sea embark on another US tour in the near future. If you missed them this go around, I definitely recommend catching them when you have the chance. And bring earplugs. You can thank me later.
Check out our photos and a short video below!
Order of the Owl
Graves at Sea