Best New Noise: Graf Orlock – “Examinations of Violent Cinema, Vol. 1”

The girl with the Graf tattoo

With the feature-length indie film scheduled to accompany previous album Crime Traveler apparently on hold—could it be that there’s no film in the works, that Graf Orlock aren’t a cabal of disgraced UCLA film students, that former vocalist Kalvin Kristoff is alive and well?—these L.A. celluloid sluts have “returned” to what they do best: sarcastic and groovy cinegrind. On the band’s latest album, instead of zeroing in on action classics and genre salutes, the record exists as a dissection of all that was shitty on Hollywood’s 2017 release schedule. The samples may not be nearly as recognizable to those of you who avoid theaters because of high admission (and higher concession) prices—or because you’re too busy Netflix and chilling, then re-Netflix-ing when the object of your desire goes home—but the formula remains familiar. The difference here lies in the expansion of Graf Orlock’s palette.

“Back in the Ground” starts the album off in typical fashion, and 12 songs later, closer “Almost Human” sees samples weaved into the body of the track like the Graf of old. Between these bookends are glimpses and flashes of classic rock wailing, short training sequence bursts, southern sludge, near-Fat Wreck melodic punk, classic Metallica guitar-crunching, and doom gussied up by beard oil and pomade. Given the manner in which ringleader/guitarist/co-vocalist Jason Schmidt picks a starting point and blasts off with little-to-no riff repetition, some of it flies by so quickly that you might miss the touches the band added to make their fourth album another welcome addition to the Gorlock movie guide.