May 19, 2015

Graves - Fides Ad Nauseam

By Craig Hayes. There’s a great review of Abandon All Life, the 2013 album from Californian powerviolence crew Nails, that’s always stuck in my mind. Chiefly because the author noted that in order to really capture Abandon All Life’s high-speed hostilities
By Craig Hayes.

Over at his blog Six Noises Craig is celebrating New Zealand Music Month, "New Zealand’s annual celebration of homegrown music". He writes "Generally, that involves a lot of mainstream media highlighting a lot of mainstream acts. So I’m here to try and redress the balance a bit. I’ll be posting a link to some rowdy New Zealand music for you to check out every day over the next month. Some bands will no doubt be familiar; others I hope will be fresh to your ears." Here's his take on Grave's new album, which he wrote before the celebration began.

Artwork by Keiran D Sipes

There’s a great review of Abandon All Life, the 2013 album from Californian powerviolence crew Nails, that’s always stuck in my mind. Chiefly because the author noted that in order to really capture Abandon All Life’s high-speed hostilities, their review should have: been one paragraph long, been written in ALL CAPS, and ended by telling you to go fuck yourself.

Obviously, if you've heard the kind of vicious and undeniably malicious noise that Nails make, then you’ll know that statement is essentially 100% accurate. However, that very same sentiment also happens to be an exceedingly good fit for Fides Ad Nauseam, the latest release from Auckland, New Zealand, band Graves.

Fides Ad Nauseam is an unquestionably ferocious and belligerent album too. And its contents are also delivered at hurricane speed by an extremely hostile sounding band. More to the point, Fides Ad Nauseam is loaded with fuck you firepower. With Graves’ incensed musical barrages bringing the kind of breakneck pandemonium that’s unleashed when hardcore’s hammer is used to bludgeon the darkest punk and metal into shape on vitriolic songs.

Graves’ metallic hardcore is raw and abrasive, and there’s a lot to enjoy if you’re a fan of Boston throat-tattooed crews, the savage racket of pulverisers like Mammoth grinder, or bands like Baptists, Hierophant, Dead in the Dirt, or Full of Hell. Similarly, Graves’ music is very much in the crossover vein. With everything played at a white-knuckled pace, and stacked with the kinds of nosebleed frequencies and enraged tones that’ll provide something for crust, D-beat, hardcore, and metal fans to enjoy.

Graves have released three ear-splitting recordings so far, with their 2012 self-titled debut, their 2014 split with Conniption, and the terse and turbo-speed Fides Ad Nauseam, which is Graves’ best release yet. Just as important as Graves’ sonic stamp on those releases is the imprint of the band’s attitude. Because there’s a strong DIY drive to Graves, along with a hefty chunk of confrontational clout too. So, you can expect zero concessions, or any hooks thrown in for your comfort.

Certainly, Fides Ad Nauseam starts off at 100mph, and never steps off the gas, no matter how bone-breaking the terrain. It’s all a crashing and gnashing deluge, with high-speed grinding guitars, and nine-tracks spat out in 12 brain-battering minutes.

Admittedly, given the primal punk and metal fusillades found on Fides Ad Nauseam, it might even seem somewhat counterproductive to think of breaking Graves’ methodology down to specifics. I mean, dissecting Fides Ad Nauseam clearly amplifies Graves’ best attributes. But then, the kind of assaultive noise that Graves dishes out is set on pummelling the listener into submission, not opening itself up for any in-depth analysis.

Graves deal in gut-felt hardcore and metal on Fides Ad Nauseam. The kind of brutal wall of noise that instinctively sends the blood pressure skyrocketing. So, sure, it’s right to praise the nuance. And yes, the skill it takes to play as hard, fast, and tight as Graves do should be acknowledged too. But, really, Graves aren't out to impress us at all. They’re here to impress upon us that there’s a very ugly world lurking right outside your door.

Graves go about dispensing that news in an exceedingly punishing manner on Fides Ad Nauseam. Leaving no room for sympathy, and little room to breathe with highly pressurized songs. With single word song titles such as “Hatred”, “Choke”, “Scorn” and “Vermin”, there’s little doubt about Graves’ thematic gamut either. It’s all punk rock’s wrath, delivered with a heavy dose of metal’s spitefulness. And it’s exactly the same mix of shock and awe on Graves’ other releases too.

There’s a musical consistency to all of those releases as well, with all being recorded, mixed and mastered by Tim Shann. And Shann has captured Graves’ visceral bite and bile extremely well on Fides Ad Nauseam. The album is hot-blooded and frenzied. With vocalist Richie snarling and spitting over guitarist Josh’s meteoric riffs––which switch from fierce hardcore to blackened punk to grindcore to crust, while the dirty distortion buzzes. Throw in drummer Martin’s relentless assault, and bassist Taz’s wallop, and Fides Ad Nauseam’s broadsides become incredibly cathartic, as well as very darkly anthemic. (Also, Fides Ad Nauseam features a couple of ripping covers in “Skitliv”––originally recorded by crust punk heroes Skitsystem––and "A Nation Sleeps", from hardcore legends Dropdead.)

Obviously, you can take your pick where to start with Graves’ three releases. They all feature the same innate and lightening-fast uppercut of metallic hardcore. They all contain abundant punk rock grime and fury. And with half an hour of music released in total so far, it’s not going to take you long to appraise Graves’ three blistering releases either.

Still, I’d recommend starting with Fides Ad Nauseam. It’s Graves’ most volatile release yet. It’s certainly an adrenaline-fuelled salvo from start to finish. And it just boils with seething intensity, and incandescent energy.

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