Is this the worst album ever released? To paraphrase Bob Mould I don’t know for sure; there’s probably some stiff competition from the likes of Little Angels or the Dandy Warhols out there, but this is for sure one of the worst records ever to have been released by one of the bands whom I count to be central to my musical being.
Grave New World first came out in 1986, at the height of hair metal mania; Did the success of bands like Def Leppard, Europe and Bon Jovi have some bearing on the sound of it? I’d like to think not, but the heavily processed guitar sound, funky drumming and endless tremolo swooping would suggest influences not strictly punk at play. Vocalist Kelvin ‘Cal’ Morris attributed the whole fiasco to his rediscovery of Led Zeppelin, and you can certainly hear elements of Percy Plant and company all over the record. But at the end of the day all five members of the band at the time were grown men and have to take their fair share of the blame for the whole sorry mess.
I was devastated when this record came out, I don’t mind telling you, and time hasn’t been kind to it. I’d like to say my rage and disappointment at the time led to me overlooking some progress in the bands sound, some superior playing and songwriting, but it didn’t. 1986’s stinking turd of a record is 2016’s too, and there is not one single redeeming factor to be found anywhere in the record’s forty-odd minute duration, nearly half of which is taken up by risible fifteen minute ‘epic’ Downward Spiral.
That was an unwittingly apposite title for a song of course, although the band probably didn’t think so at the time. Even anoraks and completists won’t want this dog of a record in their collections.