Jeff Wilson‘s Deeper Graves solo project debuted in 2020 with the sublime Open Roads album which happened to make my Shaman Top Ten that year. It was a pivotal release for me in terms of not only introducing Deeper Graves but also Wilson’s Disorder Recordings label as a whole (whose output I have reviewed frequently ever since). Whereas Chrome Waves saw Wilson dipping his toes into something altogether more melodic with elements of shoegaze and post-metal being incorporated, Deeper Graves positively obliterated musical boundaries by venturing fearlessly into the world of post-punk/goth-rock with only the very faintest of nods to Wilson‘s extreme metal past.
Deeper Graves sees Wilson handling all vocals, guitars, bass, synth/keys, programming, etc, with occasional guest appearances by other musicians; in this instance, it’s Heath Rave of Lotus Thrones fame who provides additional vocals on a couple of tracks. The cover art by Indonesian artist Awo Prosatega is a far cry from what you would associate with a musician with roots so deeply entrenched in the somewhat macho world of extreme metal, but then Wilson has never been one to follow genre conventions, as the very existence of this project would intonate.
Feverish Dreams is a slow burner and sounds to my ears like something of a companion piece to Leave This World from the debut. It has an absolutely beautiful, dreamy shoegaze sensibility and sets you up nicely for the rest of the album to come. Escape Velocity was originally released as a stand-alone single under the name Dirt in October 2020 and featured Darja Vaarsi on Vocals. This time forty-five seconds have been shaved off the running time and vocals are handled instead by both Wilson and Rave. The vocal changes did take me a little by surprise and I wasn’t sure whether I initially didn’t prefer the original version just a little bit more. On repeated listens however, I realised it sounded a lot tighter with some of the fat trimmed away as well as bringing to mind Swedish outfit Misery Loves Company’s underrated classic Your Vision Was Never Mine to Share.
The Colossal Sleep is an album that demonstrates Deeper Graves growth but also puts into keener focus what made me fall in love with the project in the first place…
In Cold Blood is pure early The Cure for me, BLC (before Love Cats) in terms of moodiness and claustrophobia; it’s with great reluctance that I mention Marilyn Manson as there are undeniable tinges of his vocal influence present within the track. 15000 Lives is a luscious post-rock Instrumental piece while Corridors has an industrial sensibility, which to my ears at least, evokes Rammstein’s sense of drama and theatricality. There were times when I could also envisage this number featuring on Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration/Violator albums, a wonderfully miserable and sombre listening experience.
When Vanessa William sang about saving the best till last, she of course wasn’t referring to Distant Fires, but it’s nonetheless a sentiment I feel is applicable when describing it. Rich synths dominate throughout and tastefully carry the track through to the album’s conclusion. The greatest compliment I can pay is that I found it incredibly difficult to think who the track sonically reminded me of and for 2022 this is a veritable rarity.
The Colossal Sleep is an album that demonstrates Deeper Graves growth but also puts into keener focus what made me fall in love with the project in the first place. Whereas some (not me) may have been put off the debut, in part to its more bombastic moments, this time round we’re treated to something a little more refined and understated that may carry more appeal for previously sceptical listeners.
Scribed by: Reza Mills