After signing a deal with Sony Epic, a line-up looking like an underground dream team and an album recorded with award-winning producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Killing Joke), 2015 was the year where dreams came crashing down, only to come true better than anyone dared to hope for…
Self-styled apocalyptic post punks Beastmilk, now Grave Pleasures, were one of the most talked-about bands in recent times. Their “painful war-cry of the eternally doomed,” as one journalist described it, resonated with fans of all music genres. Formed in Helsinki in 2010, their 2013 debut album “Climax” received rave reviews across the board. Metalheads, indie kids and gothic punks were all dancing to the funeral drum as the Finnish band spearheaded a new wave of rock music.
2015 marked the end of an era – and the beginning of a new – as guitarist Johan “Goatspeed” Snell left early in the year. The group evolved into Grave Pleasures and embarked on a musical journey sure to surpass any previous efforts.
Original members Mat ”Kvohst” McNerney on vocals and bassist Valtteri Arino set out to create their favourite band; A pack of fearless players, with a non-regulated sense of creativity and energy. Open-minded punks, skilled and hungry to take this death rock party to the next level.
They found what they were looking for in guitarist Juho Vanhanen – a musician by profession with a tasteful sense of haunting melodies and eerie sounds. His screaming Telecaster is one of the trademarks of the much respected psychedelic black metal outfit Oranssi Pazuzu.
In 2016 “Kiiskilä” joined the band. Fresh from playing in local punk legends Kohu 63, his style is wild and raw, but contains a natural gift as well as true rock and roll spirit. Lead guitarist Juho Vanhanen, who is also an infamous guitar teacher in Tampere, described him as “the best rock guitarist he’s ever played with” – which is saying a lot for a man who’s play with the best around.
They also found a perfect fit in Rainer “Raikku” Tuomikanto. The former Causemos and Decomposter drummer adds a formidable sound, curated over many years as a session drummer, clinician and many years of professional touring.
The chemistry turned out to be undeniable.
“Every single one of the people I play music with in Grave Pleasures has blown me away either on record or on stage,” enthuses Mat McNerney.
“I would have killed to be in a band with any of those guys, so for me it’s a total honour and thrill to play with them now. I feel that with them we’ll get the best out of the songs but we’re also on a mission that lives on outside and after us. That’s when you know you’re performing real true magic. That electric feeling has to be there.”
Together, they’ve written “Dreamcrash” their first album under the name Grave Pleasures – a complex and feverish set of modern rock songs, complete with immediate pop sensibility, a melancholic undercurrent, and an irreverent ferociousness that is alone in its kind in contemporary rock.
The material is multi-layered, with a twin guitar team weaving sonic webs that are both dreamy and sinister. Or as Juho described his fellow guitar player’s riff style: “Beautiful and melodic, but with spiders crawling underneath”. Bassist Valtteri Arino is truly coming into his own right on this release, further developing his groove – ultimately making it a truly danceable, rhythmic pleasure – in all its bleak, urban tribalism.
And then there is the vocals. Once described as “the world’s most successful black-packer”, Mat McNerney’s musical roots lies in the Norwegian classic black metal scene – further expanding into avant-garde metal and ultimately making a name for himself as an eclectic singer, constantly moving in unpredictable directions. After having relocated to Helsinki he formed and orchestrated his own psychedelic folk trip – the strange and wonderful Hexvessel. With Beastmilk he saw himself taking the role as an agitator for the surveilled and doomed – brilliantly balancing topics of fear, paranoia and death with sex appeal, poetry and plain, grinning fun.
On the new Grave Pleasures album – Mat McNerney is taking these themes one step further.
“I am concerned with a total collapse of our dreams. Our aspirations and our positive view of both our personal lives and the future of mankind as a species. My lyrics deal with us being a post-apocalyptic species, aware of our inevitable demise, quite possibly by our own hands. How this relates to the way we see the world and the way we live our lives is terribly romantic in a very macabre and terrifying way. There is no more frightening and dangerous place on earth than the human mind and how it deals with it’s own breakdown. Breakdown of relationships, love, dreams, desires and ultimately existence.”
Moving past the post-punk wet dream, the lyrics and vocals of these new songs are rich in texture and depth – staring into the abyss just long enough before it stares right back.
Setting off in the summer of 2015 for a number of high profile festivals performances– including Hellfest in France, Sweden Rock, and Rockavaria in Germany – the band continued on in the autumn, embarking on their first headline European tour and a co-headline tour with Tribulation.
The future of this band is surely going to be as unprecedented and extraordinary as its inception. Finding their innate pleasure in their own demise, and embracing their nihilism, this revamped monster looks set to follow their trajectory to new formidable heights. The end has only just begun.
• Management – Andy Farrow – email@example.com
• Mat “Kvohst” McNerney – Vocals
• Valtteri Arino – Bass
• Juho Vanhanen – Guitars
• Aleksi Kiiskilä – Guitars
• Rainer Tuomikanto – Drums
Upcoming Tour Dates