With the recent surge of popularity in everything vintage, it’s no surprise that vinyl has made a major comeback. As millennials and generation z alike are tearing apart their parents’ attics to search for their original pressing of ‘Led Zepplin II’, Ballybofey doom outfit Graveyard Dirt have newly released their catalog on vinyl. Formed in 1994 by members Kieran O’Toole, Paul Leyden and Tony Barr, Graveyard Dirt are an outstanding example of the doom genre that never quite made it big. In a genre that is somewhat populated with bands that seem to lack a certain amount of musical individuality, Graveyard Dirt are far superior. What separates their music from the others is a talented ear for melody, and taut quality-driven songwriting - with catchy hooks that will have you humming to yourself long after. There is an immediate defining quality to their sound, beginning with their demo ‘Of Romance & Fire’.
“This was really just us trying to capture the three tracks on a shoestring budget with no recording experience. 6-7 hours in a local studio where the producer wasn't too aware of that style of music at all,” says guitarist Kieran O’Toole.
For a first recording as a newly formed unit with little to no experience, ‘Of Romance and Fire’ has a professional and tight sound. Originally released in 1995, it is now available on 10” vinyl. Raw opener ‘The Serenity of Night’ immediately grabs your attention, while songs ‘The Funerals Essence’ and ‘Embrace the Dark’ better encapsulate GD’s trademark sound - with gloomy, crushing guitars mixed with thoughtful melodies. Apart from a slightly off-kilter sound in the vocal mix, it is an astonishing demo and secured the band with a German label at the time of release. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, and Graveyard Dirt disbanded thereafter.
Fast forward ten years, the band joins forces again with new drummer Gary Sweeney to record what would have been their release for the German label. Using their own equipment to record the guitars, bass and vocals, and a local studio to record the drums, ‘Shadows of Old Ghosts’ sounds crisp and more balanced in the mix. The EP highlights the bands influences in ‘My Dying Bride’ and the brutality of ‘Entombed’. Opening track ‘Rise...Fallen Skies’ is another exercise in atmospheric doom, resembling the crumbling ruins pictured on the cover of the EP. “A Tearless Lament’ is the best of the bunch, with beautifully haunting melodies, a cracking vocal performance, and an outro 1986 Metallica could have penned. Finishing with brooding Sabbath-esque number ‘Gathering Storm’, the band makes their mark in the genre. Originally released in 2007, the EP has been re-released on 12” Vinyl and is well worth your while.
After the release of ‘Shadows of Old Ghosts’ the band secured a one album deal with Ashen Productions based in Austria. They released their first full length album ‘For Grace and Damnation’ in 2010 and followed up with the EP ‘My Scourge, My Plague’ in 2015. Sporadic rehearsal time has plagued the band in the past, causing long periods between releases and performances. However, 2018 will see a change in this, with plans to re-enter the studio to record another full length album.
“As a couple of our members have to travel considerable distances to rehearse we tend not to rehearse as often as we would like to...but that's always been the case with us. So this year I'd like to think we'll reverse that trend a bit, concentrate on new material and return to the studio.”
This recent re-emergence of vinyl has provided opportunity for bands like Graveyard Dirt to re-introduce their brand excellent Irish metal music to new audiences and bring new ears to the genre. ‘Of Romance & Fire’ and ‘Shadows of Old Ghosts’ are available on vinyl from Sentinel Records - www.sentinelrecords.com