A little background: I’ve been a fan of Graf Orlock since they started their Destination Trilogy. I love the idea behind the band and the “mythology” surrounding how the band came to be. For those unfamiliar, Graf Orlock is a self-described ‘cinema grind’ band. They’re sound is a mix between full fledged grindcore and a bit of late 90’s/early 2000’s emotional hardcore (think Orchid and Reversal Of Man). They use dialogue from movies as lyrics and have samples before, after, and sometimes during their songs. The entier atheistic is fun and they seem like a band that would be a blast to see live.
For their latest full length, Graf Orlock have made something entirely their own. Entitled Crime Traveler, they took it upon themselves to make their own sound clips and lyrics to be the soundtrack to their own movie (I’m not sure if the movie is a real thing that is happening or not, but I’m erring on the side of no). The story of Crime Traveler from Graf Orlock themselves: “The Crime Traveler film tells the story of a French-Canadian assassin who discovers a wormhole and travels back in time to kill American politicians so that Canada can attain superpower status in the future. As the samples selected for the album illustrate, our anti-hero zips through time and space on his mission – rubbing elbows with John Hinckley at the Reagan assassination, witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more.”
First thing first: the movie samples are kind of terrible, but I believe they are supposed to be. The acting seems purposely cheesy, as is most of the dialogue. They can sometimes be distracting, but nothing detrimental to enjoying the album. As a long time fan, I know what I’m getting into listening to Graf Orlock, but I can definitely see these samples being off putting if this is your first experience to the band. In fact, before I looked into the lyrics, I had no idea what the plot was supposed to be, but once you dig into the lyrics and know the basic idea behind the album, the samples all make sense.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the most important part: the music. Graf Orlock are in top form on Crime Traveler. Over the last decade, Graf Orlock have honed their skills without ever really changing their sound. But this time around, there seems to be more of an emphasis on slower parts to accentuate their fast parts. The slow middle section of opener ‘Bad Cell Service On Connecticut Avenue’ just makes the beginning sound so much more spastic and makes for an incredible start to the album. In fact, one of the best parts on the album is ‘600,000 Tons Of Explosive Ordinance’. It’s about as close to a slow burner as Graf Orlock gets and works really well while helping to make the faster parts of the album sound even faster. It’s a new and very welcome weapon in the Graf Orlock arsenal.
But enough about the slow. The fast grind parts are where Graf Orlock excel. It’s like the more chaotic and frantic they get, the more at home they feel. Graf Orlock have always melded their grind and hardcore well, and Crime Traveler is no exception. There are sections that feel like they would collapse in less capable hands during parts of ‘Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip’, along with some nice double bass drum parts that border on thrash. The song ‘Nursing A Hangover’ is destined to be a live staple and is easily the best example of what Graf Orlock does best. It’s a full speed ahead grinder that features a nice slow breakdown in the middle. One of the better aspects of the album is that it seems that some of the songs were written with the intent of how they will sound live.
While the album may not be the best thing the band has done, it’s nice to see them doing something new and adding some interesting elements to their sound while still retaining all the parts that make them Graf Orlock. In whole, Crime Traveler sounds like a reinvigorated Graf Orlock. I’m really intrigued to see if this is a one off album, writing and using their own dialogue, or if they go back to using Hollywood films as the base of their songs. Either way, I’m along for the ride.
Album Highlights: Bad Cell Service on Conn Avenue, A Decent Proposal in a Shitty Alley, Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip, Nursing a Hangover, Cheaper, Safer, and Better Than the Real Thing
You can pick up a digital copy of Crime Traveler from the Vitriol Records Bandcamp page HERE along with everything else Graf Orlock has recorded.
You can also grab a copy of Crime Traveler on vinyl from the Vitriol webstore HERE. Vitriol and Graf Orlock especially put great effort into their physical media and always come up with something amazing.