Early Graves - Red Horse (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Early Graves

Red Horse (2012)

No Sleep Records

Have you ever listened to people talk about how they made records years ago? I'm talking on a technical level. Do you appreciate how much shit went into making something as goofy as, say, Depeche Mode's "People Are People?" People used to have to physically splice audio tape together to get perfect takes, and it could take days. Now it just takes a few clicks. Advances in recording technology can make albums better (Pitch-correcting software means more correct notes!), but also worse if not kept in check (Pitch-correcting software means people don't sound like people!). The older I get, the more attracted I am to records that are, relative to their genres, stripped down.

Which is why I feel like a hypocrite for calling Red Horse, the new record from thrash metal act Early Graves, too underproduced. Not only does it fly in the face of my personal beliefs, but the band sure went through hell making the record. It's their first with new singer John Strachan (the Funeral Pyre), who replaces deceased founding vocalist Makh Daniels. Early Graves have rebuilt themselves over the last two years.

Red Horse still suffers in sections, though. Interminable opener "Skinwalker" bleeds into mere noise once the thrash bits kick in. Granted, the band's style calls for overstimulation of the senses, so maybe this was all an artistic choice, but the lack of nuance or dynamics gets too old too soon. This is extra troubling since the record actually gets better about halfway in, as later cuts like "Apocalyptic Nights" and "Death Obsessed" manage to melt faces while still allowing the music to come through. You can actually distinguish the different guitar parts here. Sure, "Pure Hell" goes back to metal mush, but the middle section reveals how the record could have sounded if production hadn't been so rushed.