REVIEW: Grave Pleasures – Plagueboys


One of the most hilarious, yet thought-provoking tweets of last year was probably the one going something like this: “Ok, so let me get this straight – the #1 movie in the country is Top Gun, the #1 song is Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill,’ and America is in a proxy war with Russia? So, we’re just like: Fuck it! Let’s give 1986 another go then?” It popped into my mind while checking out the third studio album “Plagueboys” by the Finnish post-punk outfit GRAVE PLEASURES, released today on April 21st, 2023, via Century Media – for a number of reasons, with the astonishingly authentic-sounding 1980s-tinted aura certainly not being the least remarkable among them. The band’s press release hails the album as a post-punk wet dream and after a few spins it’s very hard to disagree. Seasoning their somewhat vintage new-wave approach with just the right amount of Gothic pop, these art-punk ruffians instantly come off as honorable carriers of the torch lit by the early-2000s post-punk revivalists, such as INTERPOL, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, and EDITORS – as well as worthy heirs of the original gangstas from the 1980s, such as JOY DIVISION, DEPECHE MODE, and THE CURE. In fact, after the very first few soundbites, I thought this bunch was from the UK, probably because vocalist Matt McNerney‘s voice is such an exquisite cross between Tom Smith of EDITORS and Alex Turner of ARCTIC MONKEYS. The complete lack of that distinct Slavic melancholy, which ever so often underpins the music of Finnish rock and metal outfits, also factored in this, I guess. Needless to say, as much as I love to swim in those melancholy waters, GRAVE PLEASURES had me hooked right off the bat with their tradition-savvy indie aesthetics, almost as though by virtue of creating a time warp into the summer of “Boys Don’t Cry” by THE CURE.

If, at first, the songcraft on the outing comes off as diabolically catchy and sublime, almost too good to be true, and a quick glance at the press release sheds some light on how this is even possible; it turns out these gents are not exactly greenhorns in this craft. McNerney started his career in the early 1990s and has collaborated with prestigious acts such as CARPENTER BRUT, ME AND THAT MAN, and HEXVESSEL. Guitarist Juho Vanhanen is probably better known for his contributions in ORANSSI PAZUZU, and drummer Rainer Tuomikanto is such a household name in the Finnish metal circles that it would perhaps be easier to list bands in which he has NOT played over the years. So, despite the fact that the names of bassist Valtteri Arino and guitarist Aleksi Kiiskilä do not instantly ring a bell, I do not doubt for a second that they are up for their tasks – the music speaks for itself. As an afterthought, it is quite interesting to notice how very different the sonic terrain GRAVE PLEASURES traverses is in comparison with these aforementioned acts. It is almost as though this side-project of a band is a guilty-pleasure-cum-therapy type of passion project, which might explain a good deal of its appeal, with the reasoning being that we tend to pour our soul much more prominently into the things we deem guilty pleasures of sorts. So, nope – this is not about a bunch of respected metalheads having a piss-take on the 1980s new wave; this is the real frigging deal!

As for the songs, the album is a continuous 43-minute eargasm. Yet, a few tracks stand out. The title track, “Plagueboys,” comes with such a spine-chilling chorus that I’ll be damned if it does not get stuck in your head for a long time. Judging by this one song only, I dare to claim the band has enough merit to be positioned in the pantheon of post-punk legends, such as KILLING JOKE or ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN. If it comes off as a rather bold thing to say, I’d like to add that the rest of the songs also live up to the standards. Another banger track to single out is “When the Shooting’s Done,” with its killer chorus, sparkling guitar riffs, and driving bassline. In fact, the combination of tight bass grooves and almost post-rockish guitars is the winning formula in a good number of songs, resonating with the air of KILLING JOKE‘s most classic endeavors as well as the latter-day post-punk revivalists.

Paraphrasing the press release, “Plagueboys” sure does ”blow up the promise of the band’s cult-classic 2017 album ‘Motherblood’ into a danceable Gothic-pop feast of existential disintegration for the roaring ’20s.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Written by Jani Lehtinen


  1. Disintegration Girl
  2. Heart Like A Slaughterhouse
  3. When the Shooting’s Done
  4. High On Annihilation
  5. Lead Balloons
  6. Imminent Collapse
  7. Society of Spectres
  8. Conspiracy of Love
  9. Plagueboys
  10. Tears on the Camera Lens


Valtteri Arino – bass

Juho Vanhanen – guitars

Mat McNerney – vocals

Aleksi Kiiskilä – guitars

Rainer Tuomikanto – drums


Century Media