Early Graves- Red Horse

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Losing a vocalist can often hurt a band, but it has an even greater impact when the loss is due to an unexpected and tragic accident. Early Graves found themselves in this position in 2010 when an accident on the road took the life of vocalist Makh Daniels shortly after the release of a stellar sophomore effort. It was unclear whether they would be able to regroup and move forward, but after an extended break the band has done just that. The Funeral Pyre vocalist John Stachan is now in their ranks and the first effort from this new lineup Red Horse is a blistering album that feels even faster and in your face than its predecessors. Although it’s a fairly short release, Red Horse is heavy hitting and finds Early Graves returning in a big way.

While Red Horse doesn’t have as gritty and dark a tone as Goner did, it is just as heavy hitting and often places an emphasis on speed and aggression. The underlying sound seems to have added in thrash and power violence influences, as the riffs and drum beats will often transition from a mid-tempo groove to extremely fast blasting seamlessly and the amount of intensity that Early Graves is able to generate by doing this is impressive. But despite the fact that they often favor a wall of sound approach, the instrumentals don’t become repetitive as there are subtle differences on each track that makes them feel different. Sometimes this might come in the form of a softer interlude that closes out a song, or in the case of “Death Obsessed” a mid-tempo chug fronted by a melodic guitar lead. At 32 minutes in length Red Horse goes by in a flash, but the group is able to switch the formula up just enough that the material remains distinguishable.

If you’re familiar with The Funeral Pyre then John Stachan’s vocal style on Red Horse will feel quite similar to what he has offered before, but it’s a bit of a change to Early Graves’ sound. While Makh Daniels had an aggressive low pitched growl Stachan favors higher shrieks that are fairly raspy and have a sound that is a cross between hardcore and black metal. It might take a song or two to get used to, especially if you’ve followed the group since the beginning, but once listeners get used to it they’ll find that the raspier style fits the instrumentals. There are also some lower growls included as backing vocals that help to break up the slightly repetitive nature of Stachan’s shrieks, and while the performance on this album may be quite different in style I believe fans will come to appreciate what they have to offer.

Despite the half hour running time, Red Horse has gotten a ton of listens from me since I initially turned it on. Since Goner the instrumentalists have become even more aggressive and managed to speed up their arrangements without losing any technical ability in the process. John Stachan’s vocal style may take a little getting used to for some people, but if you find his higher shrieks to your liking then Early Graves’ latest effort will be a standout effort. It’s great to see these guys moving forward despite the circumstances, and if this release is any indication they’re just going to keep going up.


Leave a Reply