Are you familiar at all with Grief Thief Records? No? Well let me tell you you’re missing out. Grief Thief is home base for musicians Gene Priest and Derek Jones, the duo that make up the electronic band Cemetery Gates. Cemetery Gates is a project filled with 80s electronic vibes(Depeche Mode, OMD, NIN) as well as delving into darker realms of 70s Giallo and 80s slasher film scores that were created by sweaty guys in hot studios and ample buzzing, glowing synths. And when Cemetery Gates is taking a breather these two make music on their own, with Jones getting heady in Circadian Rhythm Section and Priest getting ritualistic in Skeleton Beach.
Now what about Grief Thief Records? Well Priest and Jones started Grief Thief as a spot where they could release all their various projects as quickly and efficiently as they could. A circuital playground where the sky’s the limit in terms of what the muse brings these two. No record label to discuss anything with and no expectations to live up to, Priest and Jones can release an album a day if they wanted to(they do have lives outside of music, so that’s not realistic.) Point is, they have total artistic control over what they release and how often they release it.
A major bulk of the content(and so far there’s a ton of content) is imagined soundtracks these two create to film ideas they work scripts up for. Peruse their Bandcamp page and you’ll see a prolific amount of amazing musical content, all hitting different vibes for different narratives. Their latest is Blood Brothers, a dense, mature, and melancholy score filled with dread, contemplation, and the kind of dramatic musical arcs that make even imagined films engaging.
Here’ a synopsis of Blood Brothers:
After the tragic passing of Seth’s mother, his closest friend Nicholas suggests a road trip to New Orleans to get his mind off of things at home and to hopefully recharge his emotions and find a spark of creativity along the way. One night while drinking at a small locals bar, they hear a group at the table next to them talking about some secret and off the beaten path burial grounds where a small local off the grid commune still inhabits.
As you’d expect, things get pretty gnarly from there. Buddy Nicholas has his fortune read for $5, and from there he begins to act strange. Distant, angry, and volatile to the point where he stabs to death a couple in an alley. Seth is left with the choice of getting him help or taking him out on his own. Definitely not a story the Louisiana Board of Tourism wants to get out.
The score is filled with moments of quiet beauty and intense dread, with Jones and Priest building walls of sound with piano, synths, percussion, and incredible dynamics. From the opening piano keys in “It Was A Sunday Morning In May” with synth undertones to the ambient vibes of “Wow, What A Place” to the wonky synth touches of “Headache and Anxiety” and “What Did You Just Do!?”, Cemetery Gates never overdoes it in either direction. It’s never too chaotic with overused synth or too melodramatic with melancholy piano. They find the perfect balance between incidental and emotional. And by the title of the last piece, the final and solemn “Blood Brothers Forever, I’m So Sorry”, I’m guessing these pals didn’t make it back home together.
Blood Brothers is an amazing collection of musical vignettes that take you on a journey. A journey pre-conceived that you can follow along with, or just create your own. Either way, Cemetery Gates have done it yet again.
Listen to Blood Brothers below, and subscribe to Grief Thief Records here and get all of their content.