The King is dead, long live the King. Goatspeed, one of Beastmilk’s founding members may have left the band earlier this year, being replaced by Oranssi Pazuzu’s Juho Vanhanen, essentially forcing the band to change its name to Grave Pleasures, but truth be told, the group’s new manifestation is extremely cognate to the previous one. What does this mean for the new album? Well, one more record of post-punk played by metalheads, a fact that may be less apparent here than in 2013’s best selling debut, but the essence remains the same. It is true that Beastmilk’s success demanded a follow-up. Concerning the success, it brought to mind the relevant 90’s commercial success of metal and goth/post-punk mixture. What differs here is that in the 90’s the main source of inspiration were the more atmospheric (dark-wave one could say) folds of the “dark” scene, while Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures draw mainly upon post-punk, resulting in a more lighthearted and dynamic outcome.
“Dreamcrash” kicks off with death-rock temper, both guitar- and vocal-wise (though Kvohst’s extravagance is present here), bringing to mind early Christian Death, sans the inherent darkness of Rozz Williams’ group. The music’s structural mass is based mainly upon the rhythm section, with guitar riffs being a tad decorative, with tendencies of independence. The vocals are one more on the front line, their melodies being the second driving force behind the tracks. As aforementioned, Kvohst suffers from a slight tendency towards extravaganza in certain moments, when the effort for dramatic lyricism stretches too much; a fault that is not entire his, but its roots can be traced back to his influences. To be honest, vocal extravagance was a post-punk blight, a few charismatic exceptions aside. However, the diversity brought to the album by the British vocalist, ends up turning the tables positively – there is even a Brett Anderson-esque moment in “Girl In A Vortex”.
If I had to choose a band as the album’s main influence, that would be early The Cult. The way in which The Cult’s gothic/post-punk was filtered through a slightly hard rock prism is evident here: pure moments of crowd-pleasing bass lines, followed by triumphant-wanna-be choruses (more on the “wanna-be” later on). Some listeners may recognize a slight Theatre of Hate influence, minus the apocalyptic atmosphere. So far so good (the production is as top-notch as expected). Composition-wise however, things look a bit bleak. There is an effort of writing easy-to-listen-to songs, which ends up in much too predictable structures, a fact not much annoying if inspiration ran abundant. Yet, besides 3 or 4 stellar tracks, the sonicscape is decadent. Mediocre choruses that strive towards climax (sic) with blank intensity, and a pervasive insufficiency towards successfully blending lighthearted dance melodies with post-punk melancholy. “Climax” was also prone to this, but managed to overcome the obstacle through sheer momentum, something not happening here.
Conclusively, “Dreamcrash” lacks both the compositional power of Beastmilk’s debut, as well as its element of surprise. The album is quite easy-listening, less metal-ish than its predecessor, but its content is quite shallow. One can listen to it for Kvohst’s overal performance, for certain hits that remind one of “Climax”, and for those nostalgic of The Cult’s “Dreamtime”, but the overall outcome certainly does not live up to our expectations