Grave Babies

Crusher

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AllMusic Review by

On Crusher, Grave Babies dig deeper into the scrawling lo-fi that caught the attention of Hardly Art. As the 2000s flipped to the teens, the "shitgaze" trend came and went (along with "witch house"), yet Danny Wahlfeldt permanently buckled himself in to an extremely overdriven style of brittle goth that was all the rage three years prior. It's a cheap, easy trick to intentionally overload a cassette to the red in order to blow out a song, but there’s no denying the effectiveness. Just as mod rockers took razor blades to the speakers on their amps in the '60s, driving these songs to such an extreme degree of cassette overload boosts them toward something fiercer than just mere pop melodies. Preparing to listen to Crusher is like getting ready to listen to early Wavves or Times New Viking albums. The fuzz is so thick that it's a matter of scratching through the distortion to experience the music, and most listeners simply won't be able to get past the grating feeling, which can be comparable to having someone scratch your skull with a protractor. Still, if adventuring down the rabbithole into doom and gloom is the plan of attack, then this is an exciting way to go about it. Like good goth, this is painful and exclusive, full of moody anthems and baritone melodies that won't cut through the static until the fifth listen or so. The oversimplified drum machine (kick, snare) beats, atmospheric keyboards, and chorus pedal guitars lend themselves to pretty spot-on impressions of the Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus, and Wahlfeldt attempts a pretty effective goth impression à la Peter Toole from Type O Negative, with his baritone croon. Of course, none of this would work even slightly if it seemed overly sincere, and the ham-headed chorus of "Blood on the Face" perfectly rides the line of sad-eyed ridiculousness.

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