Audio Mixer: Matt Bavies.
Holographic Violence is the first Grave Babies album to be recorded in an actual studio and properly mixed and mastered, rather than slapped to cassette in leader Danny Wahlfeldt's basement. Previous Grave Babies recordings were so mired in grisly, ear-bleeding distortion that they nearly resembled V/Vm's infamous mangling of "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Now the layers of scuzzy feedback are gone, and Wahlfeldt's deep baritone voice rings out clearer than ever. While still dark and dingy, the relatively cleaner production brings the group closer to sounding like its '80s deathrock heroes, while the overly dramatic bent and tongue-in-cheek song titles like "Pain Iz Pleasure" recall a less metal, lower-budget version of Type O Negative. The group shows that it isn't stuck in the past (be it the goth '80s, the alt-metal '90s, or the late-2000s lo-fi cassette boom) by including a few up-to-date production effects, particularly the subtle influence of trap-style beats on the drum machine programming. On a few tracks, particularly "Concrete Cell" with its slowed-down, chopped & screwed vocal bridge, they even conjure up memories of witch house trio SALEM. The group pushes things even further into the haunted funhouse on album closer "War," which features sinister pitch-shifted laughter, low-slung metal riffing, and Alice in Chains-like singing. As nihilistic and doom-and-gloom as the band's lyrics are, they're cloaked in strong melodies, particularly on "Something Awful" and the chiming, crystalline "Positive Aggression." The overall result is a forward-looking album drawing from dark, foreboding sounds from the past, and it's a decent, spooky listen, if a bit hard to take seriously at times. ~ Paul Simpson