GRAVEYARD BASHERS: Wreck ‘Em Dead
Release year: 2021
Label: Lycans Den Records
Psychobilly is a funny genre. Or, actually, it’s the public, outsider perception of the genre that’s funny. Often people outside the scene tend to generalize and reduce the whole genre into a single mash of bad rockabilly, silly lyrics, incessantly slapping bass and a stupid attitude. But that’s not even a caricature of the genre, it’s basically just a gross misrepresentation. I mean, one only has to take a cursory glance at the music that’s been classed as “psychobilly” during the last 40 years or so to understand that there’s a large variety within.
Finnish Graveyard Bashers represent the hardest, roughest and rawest end of the psychobilly spectrum. Whilst not crossing over into metal or hardcore territory with exceedingly heavy, distorted guitars nor stealing from The Misfits’ songbook, this is certainly far removed from the “old school” bands in whose music the rockabilly roots are brought to the fore. Certainly, just making a comparison between this Finnish trio and any of the first wave bands, the misrepresentation mentioned above starts looking quite silly indeed.
On their second full-length album, third release in total, the Finnish mutants continue down the same path as before. The name of the game is – as said above – psychobilly, of the harder and faster kind. Whilst the focus on first listens may be on the vocals (vocal duties are shared between guitarist Panu and slap-bassist Lusse) and their harsh, vicious snarl and the mainly rather fast tempos and hard hitting riffs, if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find plenty of authentic psychobilly here. I admit that there are bands where the accusation of “this is just hardcore punk with a slap bass” is warranted, but Graveyard Bashers are not one of them. Beneath the surface veneer, a song like Twisted Nightmares is classic psychobilly informed by the second wave as much as by the hard sound of the Brazilian scene.
The Brazilian scene is an obvious reference here: you can certainly hear a venomous dollop of Os Catalepticos and Sick Sick Sinners in here. Or why not something like Mad Mongols, those crazy Japanese purveyors of hard and rough but still authentic psychobilly? It is bands like these that are the spiritual compatriots of Graveyard Bashers; in comparison to a band like Banane Metalik, the Bashers don’t go for the same kind of really amped up, distorted and heavy guitar tones.
Having been a few years in the works, Wreck ‘Em Dead is certainly the most mature and composed material by Graveyard Bashers to date. Stylistically it doesn’t make any major breaks, this is still identifiable as the same band who released the lovely video track Cum Dumpster, but the devil is in the details. There’s no simple reason as to why this is their strongest material to date – you can’t say the songs are a tenfold better, or the playing twice as tight, or the sound vastly improved. In part it is better songs, better playing and better sound, but it’s more than that. The band just feel more confident in their own expression, more focused, more motivated and more energetic. In a nutshell, it feels like this time around they really know what they want, and how to get it.
From the very first release, I’ve liked the band. Not only is their sound something you don’t encounter in their Finnish peers too often, but from the go they’ve done good stuff with it. With Wreck ‘Em Dead, it feels like any remaining chick feathers have fallen, and Graveyard Bashers have become ready to take on the world. To wreck ’em dead, as it were.