Review: Graveyard – Innocence and Decadence

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Graveyard came onto the scene just as the proto-metal/retro-rock fad was kicking into high gear. It was perfect timing, as the band’s vintage vibe and commitment to excellent songwriting really helped them stand out from the veritable legion of psyche/doom/stoner/retro bands that seemed to crawl out of dank basements across the world en masse in the last decade or so. Now, in 2015, as the proto-metal movement is over-saturated to the point of critical mass (seemingly forecasting an inevitable decline in the near future), are Graveyard still the leaders of the pack or is album four the beginning of the end? Let’s find out.

On the whole, Innocence and Decadence is a chaotic affair. The previous album, Lights Out (one of my top picks for 2013), felt like a coherent effort: meaty rock songs with a couple ballad type numbers sandwiched in strategic spots that made the record dynamic, yet whole. However, Innocence and Decadence is all over the place stylistically. The introduction of more experimental/psychedelic elements into the core sound is something I keep coming back to as a constant source of mild disappointment. Graveyard have flirted conservatively with psych on previous albums, but they seem to have embraced it far more on Innocence and Decadence; a song like “Can’t Walk Out,” with its psychedelia on display, comes across as an all too deliberate attempt at incorporation. Perhaps this integration is not so bad. In fact, many listeners would probably consider it a natural evolution for a band like Graveyard. Sure, I suppose that would make sense — except everywhere one turns nowadays, there seems to be some new psychedelic stoner rock band out there eager to kick out the jams with the same old tired effects and psych breakdowns. If not for the over-saturation in the genre, Graveyard’s progression into this realm may have been admirable, but for now it sounds played out and inappropriate for such a class act.

I mentioned earlier, before embarking on my anti-psych rant, that Innocence and Decadence is stylistically all over the place. Over the course of the album’s eleven songs, listeners will encounter quite a few disparate elements blending together, but not seamlessly: head-nodding songs for driving through the desert at night, unrequited love ballads that belong to another decade, hard-rockin’ numbers that’ll get the blood flowing, and others that are seemingly the result of an open live-room jam session. This is problematic for those seeking a solid and dynamic listening experience, the dynamism on display being just on the wrong side of hectic for me. Of course, on the other hand, this could be an interesting statement of course by the band. If the lyrics from “The Apple & The Tree” are any indication, Graveyard may just be doing their own thing for their own sake without giving a fuck who knows it: “So sick of people telling us who we are / I’m neither, I’m everything, and in-between / I’m nothing and something that you’ve never ever seen.” However, I’d be remiss as a reviewer to not also note that despite whatever level of self-sufficiency and independence Graveyard function at here, the album’s resultant flow from song to song tends to be a little too chaotic for its own good. It is a challenge, or even a probelm, for those who would like to listen to the album as a collective effort rather than a mish-mash of styles and songs.

For all of my bitchin’ and moanin’ about Innocence and Decadence thus far, it is still a Graveyard album, which is to say that it is still an awesome slab of groovin’ rock ’n roll.  While some of the songs lack that fuzzy, driving riff that has become the band’s signature, the ones that do embrace it really stand out in my mind. “Never Theirs to Sell” is a tease of a song at just over two minutes in length, but it makes me want to slam my head into the concrete and feel good about it with its aggressive groove and scream-sung vocals. “Hard-Headed” follows a similar trajectory, with its massive, fuzzed-out bass line pushing the song into nuclear overdrive during the brief, but belligerent, choruses.  Also of note is the the much appreciated nod to the band members’ extreme metal roots with the well-placed, yet very unexpected, blast-beat midsection in “From a Hole in the Wall” (listeners might also check out the sinister Seasons in the Abyss-esque riff from the opening track of Lights Out). The album’s centerpiece ballad, “Too Much Is Not Enough,” strays perilously close to over-indulgent R&B/Soul music worship, but this, along with the other slower numbers on the album, can be forgiven by the presence of some great vocal hooks therein.

graveyard2015

This has been a very difficult review to write. I have had quite a few negative things to say about this album, with only a few positive ones. But this is because I love this band so very much; I hold them to a very high standard, given their near flawless discography. Innocence and Decadence has proven to be a real challenge for me — not because the songs themselves are progressively challenging, but rather because the album is so scattered and chaotic that the listening experience becomes a retro-rock fever dream at points. What was that? What’s going on over here?! What about over there?! Again, some may listen to the riff stew and may be pleased with the sonically diverse and wide range of riffing and songwriting; ironically, it leads one to question whether Graveyard were indeed self-aware of the “decadence” of which this album partakes heavily. One could say that they definitely were. This brings me back to my initial question of where this album puts Graveyard in the grand scheme of the proto-rock trend. I think the Swedes have once again crafted an album that is superior to the vast majority of material released by so-called “retro” bands nowadays — hence the fair/decent score — but they have ultimately fallen prey to experimentation for the sake of it, and in doing so, have foregone some of that songwriting/album-writing talent found on previous records.  I’d ultimately like for Innocence and Decadence to make an appearance on my Album of the Year list, especially for the hard rockin’ songs that do resonate with me, but its place in the list is tenuous as of now.

Turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out just yet: Innocence and Decadence is gonna require your full attention.

TOILETSCALE_3_of_5

 

3/5 Toilets ov Hell

    • Pugs always look like they are totally content. Sweet

      • The pug at the office always look like he’s about to drop a giant shit

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
    • I’d like to feed her some of my home made chili.

      • Vote for Jeb

        I’m going to a chili cook-off this Friday.

        • Cool. I’m curious to make my second batch next month. This batch was a bit toooo hot. Plus not enough meat. I want to try and do a pulled pork chili next time.

          • Deer meat in chili >>>>>>>>>>>

          • Well yeah. I don’t have any of that unfortunately….Yet.

          • Been out yet??? Planning on it??

          • It’s going to be hard for me this year to get out. I have a lot of PTO to use for upcoming vacations and travel . I may be able to get out a couple of days but that might be it. I’m sure I’ll get some venison from one of my buddies.

          • Sweet. Keep me in the loop!

          • Vote for Jeb

            I’ve got a big hunk of bone-in soup-beef I’ve been saving for this occasion.

          • Nice! Making chili is a good time. I hate the fucking clean up though.

          • Guppusmaximus

            I totally dig Turkey Chili. A little off point but I made some kick ass Chicken tacos yesterday.

          • That sounds interesting. I did a flank steak chili one time and it turned out terrible. The steak just got really tough, it was quite the disappointment. All well.

          • I hear you gotta marinate that shit for a long-ass time to break it down.

          • Yeah, that seems like too much work. Haha.

            EDIT: And waiting.

          • Fuckin’ A. Just throw some ground meat in there. It’s chili. Serious effort defeats the purpose.

          • Indeed. I make chili because I want chili that fucking day!!!

          • …and it is cheap and last 3 days.

            #Chili-ov-many-perks

          • Mine is going to last me probably all this week. Then again, I’m the only one eating it. But, still VERY cheap and VERY good. I did a chili burito last night. This morning was pretty horrifying.

          • #burito-bowel-blaster-ov-hell
            into the…
            #toilet-ov-hell

            hahahalolzhue

          • All I ate this weekend was chili so I was trying to think of different ways to eat it. I did the burrito, the chili on noodles and rice. Any other crazy ways to pair chili?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69vnGfCH4TU

          • Nachos! there are nachos!

          • Nice! Good call.

          • Guppusmaximus

            Sorry for the late reply (work shit, ya know). For me Turkey chili is better than beef because the Turkey actually soaks up more of the seasoning. Yea, I fooled my mom yesterday with the Chicken Tacos because I just use the regular taco seasoning from McCormicks but I add an extra package so it’s pretty spicy and I dice up the turkey really fine while it “boils”. However, I don’t cook it dry (leave some gravy = taco mix + water) nor do I drain the chicken fat after browning the chicken with a drop of canola oil. Plus, I don’t buy that 99% lean ground chicken…fuck that flavorless crap.

        • Make sure to bring a coat. Just in case you get… wait for it… chili.

          GL

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Fuck, bitches love homemade chili.

    • Old Man Doom

      Is this what dying is like?

  • Vote for Jeb

    I enjoyed the second song much more than the first, but this style is a tough sell for me.

    • COAL ROLL

      Janitor rock

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      The first Witchcraft album did it the best.

      • Vote for Jeb

        I got a strong Pepper-era Corrosion of Conformity vibe from the second song, just not nearly as rocking.

      • Stanley

        Witchcraft’s Legend does it for me. I much prefer the more modern production on it rather than on their earlier releases which sounded to retro for my ears. It’s a great rock record.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          I couldn’t get into Legend. Too glossy.

          • Stanley

            It is, for sure. But there are so many monumental hooks and massive riffs.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Hmm, maybe I’ll revisit it again sometime.

    • KJM, Shake Zula

      Don’t care for this band really, and this genre is a somewhat easier sell for me.

  • ME GORAK B.C.™

    GORAK LIKE REVIEW BY FELLOW CAVEMAN!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Old Man Doom

      Thank you, Gorak. Prehistoric solidarity.

  • God

    While I’m iffy on the music itself, dat album artwork.

  • The riffs are catchy, the vocals are trill…

    I love when bands can pull of non-flashy solos that get to point – being memorable and listenable.

    Fuckin sweet OMD!

    GL

    • Old Man Doom

      Thanks, GL. The vocals are indeed one of the best parts of the band. The dude can pull off some major hooks.

  • Dagon

    While I do agree that this album is not cohesive at all, the individual songs and some of those songs are so so good that I have managed to look past it.

    Innocence and decadence is a great album to enjoy while driving, for an instance. Just roll the windows down, put on your sunglasses and drive to somewhere far enough and that has a pool.

    Our tastes are very similar in general and I really like the fact that you’re writing for us. Ever since Hisingen Blues came out I have held Graveyard to the same high standard.

    • BEARD-SPLITTER

      Pools closed.

    • Old Man Doom

      Thank you, Dagon. Ultimately, I can do the same: “Hole in the Wall” and “Hard-Headed” go hard as fuck. Once my day was done last Friday, I hauled ass out of the school parking lot blasting “Never Theirs to Sell.” You know what, another post about driving music would be cool *makes notes to self*

      • I agree with Daggy. Your writing is kicking this place up a notch or two, OMD. Keep these coming.

        • Old Man Doom

          Damn, man, thank you. That means quite a bit to me.

    • I drove to somewhere without a pool. How badly did I fuck up?

      • Dagon

        On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re beautiful no matter what they say.

  • Sponge Of Mystery

    Why is this post not Bernie Sanders related?!….Oh wait, wrong site

    • Bingo Sandy seems aight with me.
      #ToiletovPoliticalOpinions

      • I am planning on voting for him in the primaries. Just to snub the Hillary.

        • KJM, Shake Zula

          You should vote for him in the general election as well(if he makes it).

          • BEARD-SPLITTER

            As a trve bernie supporter, i just hope hilldog will give him a good cabinet spot

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            As do I, but I think he’s got a much better chance of getting the nomination than he did just last month.

          • BEARD-SPLITTER

            I dont doubt he has a shot. The problem is getting people to vote in the primaries.

          • I am not sure I am on that side of the fence, at the moment. If the repubs don’t pull their heads outta their asses I will surely be considering it….

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I’m not saying he’s the 2nd Coming or that he’ll cure Cancer within his first 24 hours in office, but surely he’ll be a better bet than anybody the GOP can come up with this time?

          • BEARD-SPLITTER

            *ever

            Ftfy

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I’m going for the “soft sell” this time. ^_^

          • I don’t know… the whole face value of GOP has turned into a shit show. It is embarrassing to identify politically with a group of people who willingly prop up all their “values” behind a flag given to the from God.

            #confused

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            You may not agree with everything the Democrats did while they held the Congress and Presidency from 2008-2010, but at least they got things done. They got legislation passed and the gov’t was funded and kept moving in a forward direction. Now the Congress can’t even agree on a fucking speaker because the extremists are holding them hostage.

          • True.

            I think both parties (and the country in general) would benefit from a deescalation of the 24 hour news cycle that preys off every word uttered by each side.

          • BEARD-SPLITTER

            So the GOP can slither around in secrecy again

          • lolz

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            24-hour news is only good if important stories are being covered rather than the “he said, she said” bullshit.

          • BEARD-SPLITTER

            Something else you can blame rupert murdoc and the right wing for

          • Based Pingu

            I dunno man, Trump seems pretty cool.

          • You own any of Thy Catafalque’s other material? is it worth listening to?

          • Based Pingu

            It’s for me to know and for you to never find out.

          • You cooperation is duly noted, pingu.

          • Based Pingu

            I will not cooperate with terrorists.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            Dat hair…

          • Based Pingu
          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I will admit, I do enjoy watching him rustle Jeb Bush’s jimmies over the WTC attacks.

          • Based Pingu
          • KJM, Shake Zula

            The Bush Family are the biggest drug dealers on Earth.

          • Based Pingu

            After KJM, of course.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I spend my days partying like Blake Judd and my nights making deals with Elder beings(usually involving children and Christians) to keep the drugs flowing.

          • Smuggling their “drug” monies through a baked bean companies is foo proof, son. Political motivations, drugs, beans, “burritos”, narco-“sub” marine houses… 24 hour diarrhea “news”. Taco dildos.

            http://acautographs.weebly.com/uploads/4/3/7/6/437680/9618137.jpg

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            There’s a lot of propaganda encoded into that beautiful bean footage.

          • InfinityOfThoughts

            Mind=blown

          • Óðinn

            They are among the biggest arms dealers on Earth. Their family fortune is largely invested in the international arms trade.

          • KJM, Shake Zula

            I know. I’m just saying there’s a reason they call him “Poppy” Bush and it ain’t cos he’s the dad.

          • Óðinn

            Not to mention how Prescott Bush started their family business to begin with, by trading with America’s Nazi enemies during WWII.

            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar

          • Óðinn
          • Óðinn
          • Based Pingu

            He will make America great again.
            *starts vomiting violently*

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        Co-signed. I’m happy to go with the old white guy this time around.

      • Old Man Doom

        I’m not yet convinced that his policies are practical in our divisive political climate. As much as I know 50% of people really want a new social democracy, the other 50% want to make sure that doesn’t ever happen.

    • JWEG

      When I go to the polls later today, I would regret that I can’t cast my vote for Bernie (or Jeb!).

      …except that I don’t really.

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        GOOD LUCK!!! Either of the centre-left choices seem far better than Harper.

      • Óðinn

        Stephen Harper is a grade A assclown. I hope he loses by a big margin.

  • JWEG

    So, when predicting that retro-metal is on the verge of the “bust” part of the boom-and-bust cycle – should we, or should we not (or even can we) think of folk metal circa 2005-2008 as precedent?

    • Vote for Jeb

      Or metalcore/deathcore before that/during that.

    • Old Man Doom

      That’s probably a good place to start, I imagine. I am personally just very tired of the over-saturation of retro bands in recent years. It was cool when you had a few guys like Graveyard who were making some quality tunes that were original, yet throwbacks to a specific musical era. But now, every asshole with a fuzz pedal and an SG thinks they have to play Black Sabbath tritones and pentatonic riffs. my point is just that it is only enjoyable up until a certain point, and beyond that you can’t tell which bands are good anymore since they’re all kinda ripping each other off. While I can’t necessarily speak for the metal public, I do think that this trend has made quite a few people very tired, thus beginning the spiral downwards.

  • Stanley

    I like Lights Out. Short and sweet with good tunes (and the Mrs doesn’t complain about it). These two new songs are doing nothing for me.

    • Old Man Doom

      I suggest you take at least one listen through the entire record because there are flashes of awesome rockin’ tunes that are short and sweet like Lights Out.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Honestly, I think this is a perfect example of when the trend starts to run out of fuel. These retro acts have nothing other than a gimmick, imho. The cover art is far superior to the music and was kind of waste to use here.

    • Old Man Doom

      I really dig the band, but you’re absolutely right about the retro trend drop off. I’m predicting a major shift in people’s collective taste soon because the gimmick gets old after awhile (especially when the gimmick was old already).

  • I feel like I would love to listen to a band like this at a bar on the weekend. The tunes are moody, the riffs are good, but nothing to write home about.

  • I’m finally listening this because of the review and not because the increasing Dagon name-dropping, huehueheuhe.

    The second song reminds me of older Thin Lizzy. Good stuff.

  • KJM, Shake Zula

    I’m telling ya. If you want Doom that’s actually DOOM, do not sleep on this Witchhelm album. It’s Doom that isn’t retro-70s sounding and manages to change up style from heavy to light and ambient without sounding forced. It’s a top album of 2015 for me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1rsUTalWEQ

    • Vote for Jeb

      Is that cover art a still from Begotten?

      • Damn, I thought the same. Very grim.

        • Vote for Jeb

          It looks like the God character, but it’s hard to tell.

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        Not sure, wouldn’t be surprised.

    • I’m going to jam this. Sounds pretty good so far.

    • CT-12

      Listening now…

    • OldMetalHead

      The bubbles remind me of:
      https://youtu.be/6l1GvDWtccI

    • InfinityOfThoughts

      With a song called Goblin Knockers, how could someone NOT like this?

      • KJM, Shake Zula

        Kick ass tune with Sabbath worship that doesn’t seem obvious.

  • Boss the Ross

    If you havent already, check out Kadavar. Their a german outfit with the same kinda proto/retro vibe and are pretty solid. I caught them live a few weeks back, those guys know how to jam.

    • Old Man Doom

      I’m very impressed with their collective facial hair

      • Boss the Ross

        Ha, yes! Seeing said hair in full action live is impressive as well.

  • Waynecro

    Not my kind of jams, but that was a very well-written and informative review. Thanks!