A REVIEW OF: The Graveface Museum ‘Beyond Human’ compilation

Artwork by Chole Manon. Photo by Tom Cartmel at Tom Cartmel’s house.
[Caption written by Joshua Peacock]

Ryan Graveface (not his real name) has carved out his own little esoteric empire in Savannah by basically just doing whatever he wants for the last eight years with his own creepy aesthetic blending sometimes harmoniously with Savannah’s weird vibe.

In addition to the Graveface Records rock ’n’ roll label (the oldest wing of the Graveface corporation), the brick and mortar Graveface Records & Curiosities—conveniently located on W. 41St. —the Terror Vision imprint label (made for horror soundtracks) and the new Graveface label (focused on releasing local to Savannah bands), Mr. Graveface has now added the Graveface Museum to his spooky business portfolio.

The museum is basically a home for Mr. Graveface’s personal collection of weird shit. Like John Wayne Gacy paintings. Fucking weird vibes, man. Also, most everything in the “Museum” is for sale. Because if you’re not trying to sell something in Savannah, you’re not welcome—according to the Savannah City Council. 

Mr. Graveface turned to his cult followers for assistance in getting the museum on its legs. He initiated an Indiegogo fund which surprisingly had a video of him with his face fully exposed asking for assistance. Which was weird. Historically, Mr. Graveface does not like revealing his face. I don’t know why. It’s not hideous. 

The crowd sourcing fund raised nearly $8,000 with mid-level and top donors receiving a copy of the new Graveface Museum compilation Beyond Human, on vinyl. 

The Beyond Human vinyl. Photo by Tom Cartmel at Tom Cartmel’s house.
[Caption written by Joshua Peacock]

For well over a year now, rumors have been circulating in small-ass Savannah about a Graveface compilation album that featured a number of notable local acts. The compilation became part of the Indiegogo reward’s package, rather intentionally or unintentionally. 

Supporters of the fundraiser, myself included, got their copy of the Beyond Human vinyl and digital download the first week of the year. Mr. Graveface announced recently he was releasing it to the general public with extra copies of the vinyl addition now on sale at the brick and mortar. Go get it. 

Perhaps one of the most peculiar and fascinating compilations ever, Mr. Graveface commissioned local bands to write original songs about serial killers and/or cults. Very creepy. The vinyl edition has 12 tracks, but the digital download includes three additional tracks from Dame Darcy, Jeff Zagers and Rude Dude and the Creek Freaks—the latter of which was probably way too long to include on a vinyl. Rude Dude likes to jam. 

For fans of local music, Hotplate has continually, for nearly a fucking decade, delivered the scenes best instrumental metal. Well, pretty much the scene’s only instrumental metal, but whatever.

They are perhaps one of the few bands ever to write a 20 minute song that was not a jam band record. Just loud-ass guitar riff after riff, congealed by a sparse, mathy jazz drumming base, and heavily down-tuned everything. 

They might also be one of the few bands ever to have their two guitars set to two different tunings, each of those tunings basically being of original design by its arbiter. Hotplate is a unique concoction. 

Beyond Human by Graveface Records & Curiosities

And we’ve had years of this excellent music without any vocals. Brooke Schwartz joins Hotplate in King of Peach Street, on Beyond Human. The music is staple Hotplate, perhaps a song, or at least a few riffs, I’ve personally heard live at least a dozen times.

Continually through the years, Hotplate re-arranges songs, steals ideas from other songs for new ones, and recycles riffs better than Greta Thunberg could ever recycle anything. 

Schwartz used to helm White Treasure, and most notable is the frontman for the enigmatic yet fantastic local noise rock band Slave Grave. Who so rarely play that when they do, it’s a fucking holiday for longtime local music nerds. 

Schwartz so perfectly fits into the vocal role in Hotplate, if this was the first time you heard Hotplate, it’s easy to image this is exactly how the band sounds all of the time. Hotplate, tragically, might have only one more live show, per the curb dogs rumor mill. (Which also might be total bullshit.)

Black Tusk has comfortably shifted into a new era. With new members bassist Corey Barhorst and guitarist Scary (Not his real name, but also his real name), have brought a new energy to the band in the past year. That can be heard on their latest album, which was produced by scary Scary. New Black Tusk is always a bonus to being alive. 

Speaking of old-school famous Savannah acts, The Discussion added a solid track to this compilation. Laura Pleasants’, of sludge metal titans Kylesa, newish project is in essence shoegazey Cure worship that certainly reflects some of the lighter moments of Kylesa, but is also something entirely different and equally enjoyable.

With two of the members now off to college, hopefully Basically Nancy will again reunite if not live, at least on record. That would be cool. They pretty clearly had hip parents who were putting the Pixies and Sonic Youth in their young brains. Parenting done well, in my child-less opinion. Cool track on the comp too. 

Jeremiah Stuard and Gregg Rettig met in high-school, 105 years ago. Bands with Melody is one of their projects. The other being Sins of Godless Men. Bands with Melody is a rarity live and on record these days, so pretty cool to get some fresh tunes from these two handsome gents. Sins has been working on a new album for exactly 25 years. Hopefully, it will come out soon. New track is nice cock teaser, though.

For a measly few bucks, you can own a moment in time from Savannah’s music scene that includes a wide breath of music. All creepy. All pretty different. As a whole, this is a really solid compilation because of the unifying theme which creates symbiotic binding between bands that might never play together live, but co-exist like a little family of musicians in the same city. 

Which is often how this city works. It’s an incestuous town. This compilation exemplifies one of its strongest attributes, though, inclusion through diversity. We like it weird and different. 

As a bonus, the proceeds will help build the Graveface Museum, which is definitely what Savannah needs more of. Keep Savannah Creepy not a Capitalistic mecca, motherfuckers. 

Track listing (Digital version):

  • 1 – “Let Me Bleed” The Casket Girls
  • 2 – “Jim Jones” – smalltalk
  • 3 – “Sorry Charlie” – Basically Nancy
  • 4 – “Deathtripper” – The Discussion
  • 5 – “Ham & Eggs” – Skippy Spiral
  • 6 – “Turpentine” – Dame Darcy
  • 7 – “Aum Shinrikyo” – Rude Dude and the 7 Creek Freaks
  • 8 – “Last Chance to Advance Beyond Human” – Nancy Druid
  • 9 – “An Easy Resolution” – Prime Canidae
  • 10 – “Gallows Hill” – Black Fucking Tusk
  • 11 – “Mizz Castore” – Valley Gals
  • 12 – “Son of Sam” – Sins of Godless Men
  • 13 – “King of Peach Street” – HOTPLATE featuring Brooke Schwartz ON VOCALS!
  • 14 – “Keeping up with the Joneses” – Bands w/ Meldoy
  • 15 – “Village Vanguard” – Jeff Zagers