Released: 2015, Eternal Sound Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
When I was introduced to the music of Finnish band GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS, I was told that they played a type of "Melodic Crossover Thrash", to which I reacted with the expected "huh?". Well, after listening to the album High Heels & Broken Bones, I realized that what GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS are really playing is a modern variation of Crust Punk akin to what bands like SKITSYSTEM, WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE or After The Storm/Mysanthropic Generation- era DISFEAR play. These bands tend to mix the Crust Punk style of AMEBIX and ANTISECT with D-Beat Punk patterns ala DISCHARGE and then either adopt Swedish Death Metal riffs or more Melodic Death Metal elements within a MOTÖRHEAD inspired punkish Speed Metal template. In the case of GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS, what we have here is a band that infuses more Modern Metal elements along with a Hard Rock/ Rock and Roll sound to the style descibed above: the guitar solos are used more often, with a more technical approach to them, as well as clean vocals being thrown in more often, and the apocalyptic sense of impending doom typical of bands of this style is replaced with a more upbeat "let's party" attitude. At any rate, the resulting album High Heels & Broken Bones manages to be quite a catchy experience that may be rejected by some as "too commercial" or embraced by others for its attempt to sound different. Personally, I would say that my opinion lies somewhere in the middle: while the band does keep things interesting, there are moments during the album where the elements used for experimentation don't quite hold together.
The first thing that caught me by surprise was just how to-the-point High Heels & Broken Bones is. The listener is immediately hurled into GRAVEYARD SHIFTER's sound with the title track, which opens the album in all its short-and-sweet glory. There are no keyboard intros of acoustic sections that break the momentum of the album, although the band do experiment on some songs, like that Rock & Roll style piano on the song "Bender". "Love On The Rocks", the fifth track, is a rather hit-or-miss Hard Rock song where the experimentation is not all that successful: the vocals during the verses sound whiny and the verse-chorus structure feels a little flat, despite having a nice main guitar riff. On the other hand, on Pocket Puppet Show the band slows things down, going into a more Death Metal territory with their sound. It's a nice mixture of styles which makes the song interesting, and I found the clean vocals way more tolerable here. Earlier I mentioned how GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS prefer a more upbeat attitude to the usual nihilism of Crust Punk bands, and nowhere is that more obvious than the ironically titled Doomsdaydreaming which includes the phrase "let's get this party started" on the chorus section. The song is probably the one I liked the least: it starts off with some Goth Metal sounding keyboards, and the structure of the song just screams "radio single". Still, the remainder of the album is pretty strong, with Beerserker and Firestarter leaving a stronger impression.
I admire a lot of what GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS achieved musically on High Heels & Broken Bones. I would compare it to MOTÖRHEAD's Another Perfect Day record, where the band went for a more melodic approach with the results being a record where some songs came out great and unique while others felt too forced. GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS had the same thing happen to them: the experimentation on some songs just veers off too far from the initial course, causing confusion on the listener. Still, where it works, the band sounds great, and I hope that they keep on researching this style. In fact, I hope they remain experimenting with their sound, and find some way to go beyond what they did here.