Grave Lines is a sort-of new band formed by old hands—calling it a supergroup is a bit much (and I know how much they'd hate it, since [full disclosure] I'm friends with two of the members), but it's certainly worth noting that the four people behind the band have served time in a long list of UK underground luminaries like Throne, Sea Bastard, Dead Existence, Casual Nun, Landskap, War Wolf, Dysteria, and The Death Letter. Said list makes perfect sense when you listen to Grave Lines; the band's sound is an amalgam of Sea Bastard's salty sludge, Landskap's soaring doom, Dysteria's nihilistic hardcore punk, The Death Letter's candlelit dark folk, and more besides.
Their new album, Fed Into The Nihilist Engine, is itself a study in contrasts writ small. Though always heavy, and always metal-born, Grave Lines wears its influences on its sleeve, and outside of the members' past projects, there are some more surprises lurking in the depths of this machine. There's a grandiose Neurosis influence and nods to Amenra's primal thunder, but it all comes tarnished with shades of Iron Monkey's down-tuned misery. "Shame/Retreat" is all delicate folk melodies and sparse, plaintive vocals, while songs like "Self Mutilation by Fire and Stone" rumble awake like sleeping mammoths and"Silent Salt" slings shards of hurly-burly noise rock.
At times, Harding's emotive, throaty exhortatons evoke a gloomier Primordial bard Alan Averill, or a devilish Americana ditty; at others, he channels rougher-edged hardcore howlers, and lets the London grime creep back into his throat, and the quiet duet "Loss/Betrayal" is a gothic chiaroscuro dream. It's a difficult album to describe, really, which is why you should just go and listen for yourself—we're streaming it here today.
"Fed Into The Nihilist Engine delves into the human struggle to interact with our own negativity. The seductive power of our darker emotions and the self-perpetuating nature of our misery as we are inexplicably drawn to them," vocalist Jake Harding tells Noisey. "The Nihilist Engine is a symbol of our inability to understand both our own inner turmoil and the darkness in the world around us. The moment we come face to face with our own wretchedness as it calls for us to give in.
"The cover art, conceived and realized by Bonnie Baker, perfectly embodies the visceral feel of the album and works to visually explore the themes therein. Musically, this is the cohesion of four minds teasing out what naturally finds its way into the room. These songs are unapologetically organic and a natural output driven from the bleaker side of the human condition, drawing from a sombre palette yet leaving a charging triumphant mark on the exit wound."
Kim Kelly is dreaming of grey skies on Twitter.