Turn Back the Clock


Industrial Rock
 

Gravity Kills

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

           

            In 1995, an action film based on a video game hit the theaters and I was able to see the film three or four times thanks to my connections.  I always stayed until the last line of the ending credits of Mortal Kombat had scrolled up the screen.  It was during those ending credits that I received my first dose of a Missouri-based industrial rock band known as Gravity Kills.  The song Goodbye was a hard hitting track about a loverís refusal to continue in a poisonous relationship filled with pain and betrayal.  I was hooked from that very moment.

            Shortly afterwards, I watched the film Seven and heard another song with a familiar style to it - heavy rock mixed with synthesizers and interesting electronic noise, hard-hitting lyrics sung by a powerful, angry vocalist, and music that started off somewhat quietly, but once you got past the first string of lyrics hit you like a tornado, refusing to let you go until the song spiraled into its action-packed ending.  As Guilty played, I remember my friend saying, ďOh, wow, thatís Gravity Kills!Ē  I turned and asked how she knew the band and she had stated that they were relatively new and receiving some airplay on her favorite hard rock music station.

            About a year later, that same friend told me that Gravity Kills had put out an album and that I should check it out.  Their self-titled album contained eleven tracks filled with that same slamming industrial rock sound and the same powerful voice belting out those hard-hitting lyrics.  The songs were about issues ranging from damaged or destroyed relationships to relationships that seem almost stalker-esque.  In each song, the singer reveals either his innermost secrets/feelings or he belts out the hidden side of the person heís singing about.

            When my friend suggested that we should go see Gravity Kills in concert in Manhattan, I jumped at the chance.  I had yet to see them live and had no idea what to expect.  Although I canít exactly remember where we saw them, I remember the layout and the events surrounding the concert perfectly.  The venue consisted of two floors and it was suggested that we head upstairs to the second floor to avoid the mosh pit that was bound to evolve after the first set.

            Then, the bandís intro began and everyone settled in to watch.  There were no chairs, allowing tremendous freedom of motion.  In other words, you could dance as much and as crazy as you wanted to.  And then they were on stage - Jeff Scheel on vocals, Matt Dudenhoeffer on guitars, Doug Firley on bass and keyboard and Kurt Kearns on drums.  I had only been to one concert before and that experience, although great, was nothing compared to this.  In the midst of some rather amazing light displays, the band began to play. 

            It would have been enough to watch them play our favorite songs, but I was wholly unprepared for what I was about to see.  As the music grew edgier, here was Doug Firley jumping up on his synthesizer stand and performing acrobatic spins and wild gyrations.  This was something I had never seen before and I was mesmerized.  His performance was amazing and more than once I wondered how this guy stayed mounted atop that synthesizer without falling.

            The audience went wild, loving the music, the light displays and the crazy synthesizer action.  But Gravity Kills wanted us to have the complete entertainment package.  Knowing that the Yankees were playing that night and on their way to walking off as World Series Champions for the first time in years.  The guys of Gravity Kills didnít want us to miss a thing.  In the middle of their performance, they showed us portions of the game so we could keep abreast of the action on the baseball field while still enjoying the incredible band we came to see.

            In 1997, Gravity Kills came out with another album.  Manipulated was a remix album in which certain songs on their self-titled album received remix treatment.  At the time, I was somewhat strapped for cash and, since I already had the original album, I decided to pass on this one.  But I was right back at the record store to pick up my copy of their third album, Perversion and when the band went on tour to promote their new stuff, I was happily returning to Manhattan to see them live.

            The music on this third album was a bit different.  I donít really know how to describe it except to say that it was just a tad less hard-hitting than the first.  Thatís not to say that I didnít enjoy it.  In fact, Iíve practically worn the CD out listening to it.  The concert was just as exciting as ever and we were introduced to some new songs that the band was putting together for a third album that would eventually be produced on a new record label.

            Unfortunately, I never even heard about the release of this album.  TVT Records was great about keeping Gravity Kills fans appraised about their events, but Sanctuary Records did little to promote the band.  Add the injury to Doug Firleyís hands that kept him from performing his acrobatic keyboard spectacle on tour and the bandís record sales began to fall.  By the time I heard about the new album, Superstarved, the band had split up.

            I mourn the loss of any new Gravity Kills music, but still celebrate their older stuff.  Iíve listened to Gravity Kills and Perversion so often since they came out that I do believe I may have to find some back-up copies before my original albums wear through.  The bandís music was amazing and their performances were mesmerizing.  I have heard that they have re-united for a couple of one night concerts in recent years.  Hereís hoping that they get back together officially for one or two more albums.  Iíll be first on line to make the purchases!

 

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