Release DetailsLABEL Horror High
RELEASED ON 10/31/2006
Return To Earth
posted on 12/2006 By:
Anyone familiar with Michale Graves knows that he was the singer and contributing songwriter for the controversial, reincarnated version of The Misfits, and when that dissolved, a solo artist in much the same vein, so much so it’s hard to make a clear distinction between the two (which makes sense given his singer/songwriter combo). So no one could fault fans for assuming Return To Earth, like the previous Punk Rock Is Dead, would be more of the same Misfits inspired horror punk. But the music world, much like life, is always full of surprises, with some, like this one, not so pleasant.
Having largely ditched the ghoul/zombie lyrics and classic horror punk sound we’ve grown accustomed to, Michale chooses to mix a slew of mostly rock based styles ranging from the pseudo hard rock/metal of the opening “Monster” to the keyboard laced fun punk of “We Wait” and “One Moment Away” (the closest to his previous material and the two best tracks in my opinion) to the grungy, Soundgarden-ish muted palm guitar sound of “Creepy Crawly” to the Nirvana inspired “Nobody Thinks About Me” to the gospel tinged, piano/vocals only title track. There are brief moments of classic three chord Misfits punk strewn throughout the songs but they are very much in the minority.
On the positive side this seems more like a true solo album than previous work, in the sense there’s a somewhat diverse collection of songs showing off the range of Michale as a songwriter, and more importantly, a more challenging set of songs for his increasingly accomplished vocals, but on the other hand it feels a little too disjointed with too many conflicting styles vying for attention. This kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks is best done behind the scenes and early in a band’s career. We all already know what he’s good at so this type of experimentation, while laudable on an artistic level and probably very fun for him, is certainly not going to have fans beating down the doors to get their hands on this record.
Whether he likes it or not, Michale Graves' sole claim to fame is he sang and wrote songs for the post-Danzig era Misfits. That’s like being the singer for post-Max Cavalera Sepultura. Sure you’re in an insanely popular band but no one is buying the records to hear you. On top of that he painted himself further into a corner by milking his brief taste of fame with not just one, but two post Misfits albums that are largely the same as what he was doing that band. To try and branch out now is going to be tough, especially with a scattershot of styles that, while diverse, are not going to appeal across the board to his core fan base. I can see he was probably thinking he could pull a successful transition to hard rock like Danzig but that band had a concrete evil blues hard rock style that never wavered for four albums. Return To Earth is sort of a genre-du-jour approach with some successes but also some failures, but above all, a surprising lack of the horror punk style he’s been pumping out for the last ten years. So in the end I give him credit for trying something new but I’m sure the vast bulk of his fans would have preferred another Misfits rehash like Punk Rock Is Dead.
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