DIGGING STUFF UP: Hot Graves - 'Knights In White Phosphorus'
Band logo by Justin Bartlett, of course.
’Knights In White Phosphorus’
Northern Horde Records
Right, now that we’re done with the whole list business, had a little holiday break, it’s high time to get back to our regular programme. Unfortunately, the inspiration for today’s dig up of an awesome old record isn’t the happiest - after a few years of a brave fight, extraordinary artist Justin Bartlett, aka VBERKVLT, passed away, and he leaves behind a tremendous body of work that will live on in the bands, festivals, magazines and more whose personalities wouldn’t be the same without his always impressive artwork. No matter if it’s a t-shirt, a show flyer, an album cover or a logo, Justin’s style was unmistakable and always a sort of a mark of quality. To be honest, if you go and check out the full list of people he collaborated with (this is just bands he did art for, but it’s a good start), there' isn’t a sucky one to be found, which is saying something. And though unmistakable and instantly recognisable, he knew how to get the individual vibe just right for each band that he made come alive with his visuals.
This debut album by Gainesville, Florida’s Hot Graves is a perfect example of that. Take a look at the artwork for their first couple of demos, ‘D-Beat Death Dirge‘ and ‘Goatshed Deathrash Annihilation‘. Yeah, I have that font installed too. But then, check out their first use of the Bartlett logo, on their covers EP ‘Necro Mixos Sacrificio‘ which came outp just a couple of months before the proper debut. Now you really want to check them out, don’t you? By the way, you totally should, that EP rocks with covers of songs from The Accüsed, Discharge, Roky Erickson, Floor, Midnight (the song from their first demo where Hot Graves took their name, in fact), Gwar / Cannibal Corpse and Pentagram, which already tells you the fine rotten taste these lads have in music.
Anyway, if you didn’t know Hot Graves before, now you already know what they sound like even if you haven’t clicked any of that. Never ones to hide their cards, if you take the titles of the demos alone you already have a better review than most of us hacks will be able to come up with. Smack dab in the middle of the golden age of crust-ridden, blackened death’n’roll, with bands like Trap Them, Black Breath, Wolvhammer, Order Of The Vulture, The Secret or many others, or even, naturally, the thrashier Midnight or even Darkthrone doing the metalpunk thing, all at the height of their powers - and fuck me, weren’t those years amazing? Can we have a revival of that scene please? -, Hot Graves fit right in. This record is essentially a rabid, fast and loose discharge (intended, of course) of two-something minute long tunes, each of them with a riff, a death grunt or a raspy chorus that will totally hook you every time. I mean, if you’ve ever had the displeasure of being in a room where I’m spinning records, right before you started looking for the exit, you might well have heard this staple of mine:
It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? If you ever need a reminder why you got into stupid angry music about satan in the first place, screaming the words “COME TAKE THIS CHALICE / THIS BLOOD YOU MUST TASTE / WORSHIP THE GOAT!” at the top of your voice while listening to this little ditty will absolutely do it, and give you the motivation to keep looking for more. That’s just my favourite, but just about every song in the album is that good. In a way, with this tongue in cheek vibe and songs called ‘Kill For Satan’ or ‘Get Killed Tonight’, not to mention the epic, crawling four minutes of halfway point instrumental ‘Dirge ov the Apokalyptik Hordes ov the Toxik Damned‘ (your turn to come back and reply to that, Bal-Sagoth!), Hot Graves are a one spiky facemask away from being a sort of contemporary reply to the Piledriver über-classic ‘Metal Inquisition’. R.I.P. Gord Kirchin too by the way, and a big and loud #FUCKCANCER to all of this bullshit.
Surprisingly, Hot Graves didn’t become the biggest band in the world with this record, and there’s only been one proper album more since, 2015’s magnificent, erm, ‘Magnificent Death’, but they’re around, they’ve been shooting off the occasional EP or compilation, and a couple of months ago they had a cryptic post on Facebook asking “IS YOU READY?”, so we might just get album number three soon. Or we can play ‘Knights In White Phosphorus’ over and over until we die and stare at that awesome logo while we do it. Either suits me, honestly.
02. Fully Charged
03. Worship The Goat
04. Bad Blood
05. I Claim Your Blood (In The Night)
06. Blood Eruption
07. Total War
08. Kill For Satan
09. Dirge Ov The Apokalyptik Hordes Ov The Toxik Damned
10. Get Killed Tonight
14. The Craving
15. Desecration Time
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