Graf Orlock, Examination of Violent Cinema, Volume 1 (Vitriol Records, 2018)

If a year’s worth of action and heist movies were boiled down, the product would sound like Graf Orlock — and the noisy California hardcore band embrace this feature of their sound, titling their latest Vitriol Records release, Examination of Violent Cinema, Volume I

It’s not the first time they’ve worked along these lines — rather, the connection runs throughout the band’s work. Their latest angsty hardcore record cries out with the strength of a hundred spurned movie love interests and vengeful vigilantes, delivering a sonic attack that basically never lets up for the length of the band’s newest creation. 

Setting the band further apart, though, Graf Orlock feel like they embrace the absurdity in their craft and even what they draw from as inspiration. They don’t sound concerned with fitting into a certain mold — be that the successful modern hardcore band outline or the successful modern action movie one — instead sprawling their menacing music all over the place. Molds remain a hit or miss endeavor, anyway -- and who wants to hear the same old, same old over and over again.

Graf Orlock’s songs are thick, forceful, and fall on the listener at times like a ton of — metaphorical — bricks. They present walls of noise that prove complex enough so that the listener knows the musicians behind the work have a firm grasp of their craft -- but at the same time, the listener can get lost in the music and could easily find themselves listening over and over, looking for more sonic footholds in the adventurous musical terrain.

Photo: Dan Rawe

The band seriously goes all out with their commitment to absurd violence to the point of starting off every song with an audio sample from a 2017 action movie. Choices presented include John Wick: Chapter 2 and War for the Planet of the Apes, and the isolated, sometimes wild snippets of conversation further establish the record’s tone.

The band pulls no punches, delivering a sonic experience that provides a respite for the action and heavy music fan concerned about modern choices that quickly and violently morphs into a kick in the backside pushing them forward. Examination of Violent Cinema, Volume I proves wildly noisy, exciting, and ultimately unique, maintaining the band’s unique edge.

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Tagged: graf orlock