Review: The Coffinshakers ‘Graves, Release Your Dead’

Since forming in 1995, Sweden’s The Coffinshakers are not exactly what you’d call the most prolific of bands seeing as Graves, Release Your Dead marks only their third full-length album following 2007s The Coffinshakers and 1998s We Are the Undead, along with 2002s Dark Wings Over Finland, a compilation of previously released singles.

The Coffinshakers 'Graves, Release Your Dead' Artwork
The Coffinshakers ‘Graves, Release Your Dead’ Artwork

As you may have gathered from both their name and the album’s title, this is a band with their tongues firmly in their collective cheeks who clearly aren’t afraid to utilise humour. This is further exemplified by the names of the band members themselves such as Rob Coffinshaker on vocals and guitar, Fang on electric guitar, Joe Undertaker on bass and Andy Bones on drums/percussion.

Graves, Release Your Dead starts with an ominous sounding church bell before erupting into outlaw country ala Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson et al and with the kind of cool retro vibe that would sound ideally suited to a Quentin Tarantino movie soundtrack. A strong start. City Of The Dead has more pace to it, a rollicking good time to be had, much like The Dead Kennedys when they covered Rawhide or even Wall Of Voodoo who incorporated Ennio Morricone into their sound but gave it a more contemporary new wave twist.

From there we are met with Wretches which, to my ears, bears more than a passing similarity to the acoustic country punk that is embodied by the likes of Texas’ Black Tarpoon, a real energy that imbues your every pore. The track offers something a little darker and hence more appealing to casual listeners of the genre, this runs contrary to the bland world of overproduced modern-day country-pop ala Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum. Impressive.

A fantastically real and authentic work that deserves your undivided attention…

If Glenn Danzig were to release a country song, then The Siren’s Call may be the result. There are also traces of Jim Morrison in the vocal department as well as a little psych/garage in the sound not totally unlike that of The Seeds and any number of ‘60s Nuggets bands. An indisputable favourite. Holes Of Oblivion by contrast is more anthemic with its choruses and accompanying melodies, there is a roots-rock flavour akin to a much better (early) Dire Straits. This may raise eyebrows or concerns for some but fear not, there ain’t anything dad-rock here.

Prince Of Darkness recalls latter day TSOL (Joe Wood era) and in particular, their overlooked Revenge album which saw that band moving yet further away from hardcore punk and into the realms of goth infused bluesy hard rock. Another belter. Reverends Of Doom again taps into the man in black by way of Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns while Down In Flames has a reverb-drenched sound to the guitars coming across as twisted surf-rock, less hanging ten than hanging out in hell. Pretty cool fo’ sure.

River Of Souls is classic Divine Horsemen territory (Chris D’s post Flesheaters project) with a little Crime and the City Solution thrown in for good measure, definitely not a bad thing; meanwhile at over five and a half minutes, The Great Silence is not only the album’s longest track but also its most sombre. It’s an outright ballad that gives the late, great Scott Walker a run for his money. A sublime conclusion to the record.

Initially, I was concerned that Graves, Release Your Dead would be nothing more than a goofy novelty that one might crank out a couple of times before forgetting about it, however, dig a little deeper and you’re met with far more musical depth than would be your right to expect. A fantastically real and authentic work that deserves your undivided attention.

Label: Svart Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills