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Album Review
Smoke Filled the Room, We Slept

Smoke Filled the Room, We Slept
by Mellow Grave

Living Tapes

Review Date
24th August 2011
Reviewed by
Justin Paul

Before I hear the first note, I’m guessing that any musicians who name their debut album, ‘Smoke Filled the Room, We Slept’, and throw the image of a little boy just as ‘Little Boy’ hit Hiroshima on its cover are not waiting for a phone call from Daniel O’Donnell to work the crowd for his next Blue Rinse tour. The negative on the sleeve is a telling symbol: what once was light is now dark and vice-versa. Mellow Grave’s music is proper horrorshow.

Aucklanders, Jordan Puryer and Adrian Bird formed Mellow Grave in early 2010 as an off-shoot of their band, 1995. They appear to have taken 1995’s more conventional Interpol / Joy Division rock and gone far underground. Well, six feet, at least. The vocals and guitars have slid into the ether and been hijacked by the ‘ghosts in the machine’, the glacial synths and hip-hop beats of what critics have dubbed Witch-House or Drag. But it would be unfair to tar Mellow Grave with the same brush as such Drag flag-bearers as SALEM.

Nonetheless, album openers, ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Melatonin’ suggest that Puryer and Bird are receiving less of either than is healthy. The industrial clatter of ‘Melatonin’ is especially crushing, but halfway through third track, ‘Amphibian’, the pace picks up - the beast literally drags itself out of the murk. An impression of Cold Cave, or a grim New Order fronted by Ian Curtis singing from the…er… grave… continues through ‘Burn One’, and there are even flashes of M83’s light in ‘Wood Grain’. ’Merk That’ is almost club-friendly, not a particularly friendly club perhaps, but I can imagine zombies throwing shapes in a dark, airless basement. Mellow Grave show us that they are capable of several shades of grey.

To many, Mellow Grave will be harder to love than a hairy baby, but if you like dark and challenging electronica, these Aucklanders deserve your time and money. As deliciously inappropriate as Rage’s ‘In the Name of’ at a primary school sit-on-the mat sing-a-long, I would pay good money to see Mellow Grave play ‘Oxygen’ in the Timaru Town Hall amid the suffocating plumes of hair spray. You can almost hear the dears choking on their Werther’s Originals.


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