Early Graves know tragedy. Their band name unfortunately rang true in 2010 when vocalist Makh Daniels was killed in a road accident. Such a loss throws any band into a world of uncertainty. Do you carry on? Is it right to power on or do you call it a day? Early Graves decided that the best thing for them as a band was to do just that – power on. It’s an admirable decision to say the least and as they say – the show must go on. That show is called Red Horse, a record forged with weighty emotional might in every note and riff.
Red Horse is an ebullient record to the say the least but still infected with some darkness too. Crucially still a hardcore record, the album is ridden with a pacey rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic but of the much more heavier variety. Think Carcass’ Swansong, if you’re looking for a tenuous reference point. There are indeed death metal elements to be heard in the record but Early Graves don’t fear any healthy doses of melody either and it’s rife within these songs. The guitar work is relentless from the get go, peeling off hook-laden riffs one after the other.
New vocalist John Strachan (also of The Funeral Pyre) is a near perfect fit for this band, lending his snarling bark to the record in raucous fashion. He takes the album into primal territories, while sometimes the lead guitar work can be a little more grandiose like on the opener Skinwalker or the instantly infectious Days Grow Cold. The latter reaches a turning point at its conclusion, descending into a surprising acoustic passage that is rather solemn. It is however only a brief calm before storm as Early Graves quickly whip things into the ferocious once again with the title track’s concise bombardment.
Ferocious is exactly what this album is for the most part, whether it’s the band pummelling us with some d-beat savagery or borrowing a few sneaky pepperings of death metal, particularly of the Entombed variety, for good measure. The album can move between different aesthetics with ease. Apocalyptic Nights is an all-out barrage of hardcore punk meanwhile Death Obsessed moves at a slightly more cautious and methodical pace.
Closer song Quietus collects together all these intriguing elements into a sonic traverse that is a sound to behold. First kicking in with the expected rapidity, the band soon swan into a lush, beautiful melodic close that swells in affecting nature. Red Horse is a definite triumph for Early Graves and one they should be nothing but proud of.