Written by Espi Kvlt
kvrv – bvmp n grind
> Rock/Gothic metal
> London, UK
> Releasing October 31
I am once again taking a step out of my regular wheelhouse to review this eclectic new album, bvmp n grind, from London four-piece goth rockers kvrv. I have been following their career since the release of their debut album, Nyhilia, earlier this year (just in July, in fact; there’s no rest for the wicked). Their particular flavor of androgynous glam rock with nods to black and gothic metal is something I never knew I wanted, but I love it. Not for the faint of heart, these songs are sexy, dark, and unafraid to tear you apart.
The album opens with “kvrvkvlt”, which is a sweet nod to black metal and shows how influential it is on this band (particularly that of the Venom variety). Sexy guitar riffs echo through the track to the point where I can smell Nikki Sixx’s hairspray when I listen to it. Speaking of big hair, the next track, “rogve”, not only addresses it but also gets into the gender and sexuality fuckery this band loves to add to their music. You probably noticed the cover of the album is a pregnant kvrv being held by a not-so-pregnant la. If you looked at the digital booklet that comes with the album, you’d also notice the amount of excessive makeup, androgyny, and filters being used throughout. This band isn’t hiding it: they’re here to mess around with gender and sex and they’re right in your face about it. The song “rogve” takes that to the next level with lyrics like “taking off my lady mask,” which is certainly up for interpretation, but I think most people can read between the lines here. Not only is the gender being messed with, but it’s being messed with in an erotic setting, which I really appreciate. So much of the current discourse around gender and sexuality is afraid to be sexy with it, for very valid reasons, but it’s a breath of fresh air to see it so prominently addressed here.
This trend carries into the next song, “freak”, which I might add, in the booklet, features an extremely androgynous person with both excessive, feminine face makeup and a beard, which I enjoyed so much. The lyric “they flubbed a chromosome” is also hinting at things that need not be explicitly stated, we can figure it out. The instrumentation on this one is very reminiscent of an 80’s goth club. With a danceable beat, dark undertones, and post-punk influence, this song is an anthem for all the freaks. Our next track, “horrorglam”, can easily be used as a genre descriptor for this band. It has the most classic rock sound of all the tracks on the album, to the point where it made me feel nostalgic despite being a song released in 2022. It’s reminiscent of songs like “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. It’s got that same sultry voice and sexy lyrics over a sick guitar riff and smooth drumming in the background as its foundation.
My favorite track on the album is “dollcore”, which opens with an extremely fun drum beat which is perfect for this song about dressing up your favorite doll and wearing its clothes (among other more sexual things). There is once again a playing with gender here with these lyrics I just adore: “boys may be girls / girls might be boys / that’s what I like about you / toys will always be toys.” It’s giving me that sweet feeling of whatever gender you are, you’re just a person (and possibly a person I’d like to play with). I also love the breathy vocals on this one. I felt like I was right in that playroom with them, and I mean that in the same multiple levels of interpretation that this song has.
There is a massive tonal shift when the next song, “my goth nvrse” (great title) starts. All the songs so far have had that slight creepy undertone, but it’s not slight in the least here. The vocals have changed to an echoey, soft breathing. The drumming is slow, the guitar is subtle, and despite its short length, it leaves a monumental impact and is definitely an album highlight. What follows this is “grind”, which goes back to the Led Zeppelin kind of sound, returning to lyrics that feature large amounts of sex talk, though this song is the most explicit so far. To that end, it accomplishes it the best. Not pulling any punches is the best thing about kvrv, and with lyrics here about being shoved into the mud and being grinded on, this is the kind of music you put on in the background while doing the exact thing being described.
The album closes with a song that comes out of left field, and I mean that in the best way. After sexy goth glam, “skvllface” is a sweet, slow ballad about Vikings who pillage and love each other, a completely different aesthetic from anything else here. kvrv proves that if you’ve ever had the idea they’ve run out of new tricks, you are sadly mistaken. There are even brand new vocals on here—deep, spoken word, a duet with the feminine ones from the rest of the album that take them to another level. Like the end of the night at the goth club referenced earlier, this dark, romantic ballad is the perfect closer to this album.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While not the usual thing I review, this album hits multiple sweet spots of things I adore: classic rock, glam metal, goth, gender fuckery, hot lyrics, and sexy riffs. Even if you’re a tried-and-true metalhead that rarely ventures outside your comfort zone, there are things in here for you. There are black metal nods, hair metal inspirations, and goth metal influences all throughout this thing. But I do really love it for what it truly is: some good ass rock n roll.