Horror punk can sometimes come off a bit cartoony, relying mostly on jokey caricatures and half baked musical ideas. Gravedale High have the high aim of producing something more substantial that the usual fare that is put out.
With their latest release Aux Morts (“to the dead”), have they been successful in their aim? Their tunes are certainly short and snappy – ‘Death is with me’ rattles through things at a solid pace, without being dull but managing to create some real dynamics and flourishes throughout the tracks sub-three minute journey. ‘Pere lachaise’ feels that bit more stylised, with its perfunctory chord sequence and battering drum rhythm – you could believe that this is really being played by some terrifying zombies as is their (lack of) life depended on it. ‘Cyclopia’ puts some standard punk tropes to good use, playing with vocal tones along the way. At just over two minutes long, it’s the shortest track on the EP and a reminder of what makes this kind of punk work well – know your point, stick to it, and get it done without any messing about. The final track ‘Exhumed’ almost sounds like a very early R.E.M. piece – let’s not forget how they started out with late 70s/early 80s punk roots – but does begin to come unraveled as things progress, bringing the Aux Morts EP to its appropriately horrific conclusion.