Published on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 22:32
Album title: Grave Party
Release date: 2 May 2014
Label: Inverse Records
01. Rave To The Grave
02. Lady Cry
03. Terminate Me
04. Dancing Shadows
05. Bleed Sister Bleed
06. Creeping Skies
07. Sexy And Undead
08. The Last Valentine
09. Angels (Making Love In The Dark)
10. Suicide Girl
11. You Make Me Feel Like Nothing
12. On The Road 66
My first thought when I took a spin on Grave Party – and I do admit this was my first encounter with this band – is that SadDolls are walking somewhere on the thin line between being influenced and being a copycat. The darkwave quintet from Greece definitely doesn’t hide the fact, that gothic metal and even suomi metal, alongside with some EBM, left deep imprints on their sound, being especially profoundly influenced by the sound of HIM, The 69 Eyes, Paradise Lost and even Deathstars from their Synthetic Generation era (and I probably left a fair portion of other bands out).
Grave Party, the band’s 4th studio release has a title, which does it justice. Each and every song is structured to fit just perfectly into a dark electro/goth club, where Goths and gravers would go for a bit of wacko dancing and light head banging (and I mean that will all respect to the mentioned subcultures). The rhythm section of the album carries a pounding sound through all the tracks, and thus delivers a rhythm that will consume your body from head to toe. And let me tell you, those impulses of yours will want you to move your body. The addition of EBM influenced keyboards and pretty simplistic guitar riffs accompanying the eloquent rhythm section is what you get with 13 songs on Grave Party.
The intro song, "Rave To The Grave", carries a serene and slightly haunting melody, but it’s a shame that it is not longer and not building more aggressively towards the passage to the following "Lady Cry", a song that possesses all the previously mentioned main characteristics of the album. This representative song delivers an energetic blend of minimalistic, but straight-forward guitar riffs and bouncing rhythm section with a glimpse of electronics combined with deep and smooth vocals. And just as Grave Party has begun and we’re all nicely warmed up, there comes "Terminate Me", which is one of the best songs of the album. Opening with a slower beginning and exploding into a massive collision of darker and danceable tunes, the song possesses just the right amount of dreary atmosphere and with the additional vocals done by Jonas Kangur - better known as his deathglam persona Skinny Disco from Deathstars - the song also presents a pinch of the dirty and sexy atmosphere, we all know from Deathstars. "Dancing Shadows" builds more on electronic features, and is thus really a grave-vibrant song, with a very nice emphasis on the vocals in the chorus, that really shine out on this particular track. In case you didn’t know, SadDolls started out as a HIM cover band, so it’s perfectly normal that HIM’s trademark sound is heard on various occasions on this album, especially notable on "Suicide Girl", which sounds like a song that didn’t make the final cut to HIM's Razorblade Romance.
The dynamics on Grave Party seems to follow the sine curve and if you didn’t skip your trigonometry lessons in school, you’ll understand what I mean. The energy of the album speeds from its beginning point and slowly climbs up towards the highlight, and then it starts falling down again. The second half of the album sounds a bit too repetitive and uninspired, and well, quite a cliché - especially from the lyrical point of view. But then, when approaching the album’s closing chapter, SadDolls put it in 5th gear and the curve turns upwards again, until it reaches a climax, hidden behind the title "On The Road 66". This captivating and beautiful ballad holds everything to create the most gracefully despondent atmosphere and all the elements are held in absolutely perfect balance: the slowly driven guitars, the gentle piano melody and heart breaking vocals. Maybe SadDolls should take a turn and head towards more doom/gothic metal oriented tunes? Could be, because it seems they are extremely good at it.
After I took a spin of Grave Party’s predecessor, Happy Deathday, it was however crystal clear, that even though this release does sound a bit stereotypical from time to time and could definitely need a bit fresher approach, SadDolls have taken and immense step further in their sound. Grave Party seems much more inspired and well balanced, and hopefully, the band will continue in this direction. Taking a bit more profound approach, especially lyrics-wise, would be a good idea, because well, we’ve heard it all before. Especially from HIM.
Review written by: Ines