GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS “Head Turns First, Eyes Follow” EP

By Dr. Abner Mality

OK, I’m quite the fiend for extreme metal and classic metal, but I can also enjoy a dose of gritty hard rock now and then. Here we have a couple of EPs from bands proudly belonging to that tradition...let’s see how they stack up.

REBEL PRIEST’s last full length “R’lyeh Heavy” was a delightful surprise to me a couple of years back, mixing GUNS N ROSES style hard rock with touches from MOTORHEAD and even METAL CHURCH. I still advise those reading these words to hunt that classic down. The sleazy Canadians are back with “Lost In Tokyo” and this EP focuses much more squarely on straight hard rock/garage rock without the more metallic overtones. That’s not a knock, because these guys just write great catchy songs with hooks for days and some raw aggression. The title track barrels out of the gate with almost punk anger but also that catchiness. Great track! “Backyard Blues” reminds me of the killer band KIX while “Vulgar Romance” has a woozy kind of swing that’s like CRUE meeting THIN LIZZY. REBEL PRIEST save the best for last, with a rocking cover of SLASH PUPPETS’ “When the Whip Comes Down”, which reeks of ROSE TATTOO and garage punk. “Lost In Tokyo” is another good effort from REBEL PRIEST, a band which ranks high on the list of raunchy metal rockers.

GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS are from Finland and are very close in style to REBEL PRIEST. These two bands would have no trouble playing a gig with each other. The SHIFTERS also bring a lot of energy and sleazy vitality to their hard rock, but I think they are a bit more melodic, with an occasional piano flourish or honky tonk run on “Fake It Till You Make It” and “Calm Down Before the Storm”. There’s a good deal of HANOI ROCKS to their sound, with GUNS N ROSES getting a look in as well. All told, GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS sound “bigger” and more produced than REBEL PRIEST. I like their style, but have to say I prefer REBEL PRIEST because those guys are so lean and focused. Nevertheless, if you like any of the bands I just mentioned along with garage punk/sleazy hard rock in general, I can recommend GRAVEYARD SHIFTERS as well.