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A post-punk band that formed in the state of Oregon in 2010, Soft Kill is the brainchild of Tobias Grave, a former member of Blessure Grave. Originating from Portland, the guitar-driven rock music of Soft Kill began as an ode to the new wave of post-punk acts that first started to emerge in the 1980s. The band's musical heroes, when setting out, were the Cure, Killing Joke and Magazine. Early performances by the group also owed something to the work of Joy Division, which, in many ways, had led the new wave of rock music in the UK even before the 1980s had begun. The members of Soft Kill have continued to develop their sound while remaining focused on this high point of musical culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
Soft Kill's recording work
Soft Kill has been a live performance band since it got going, but for many of their fans, it is in their recorded work where they are most at home, honing their sound to great effect in a homage to the post-punk era. The band's style has been given the epithet of 'Based Goth', but this name does not really do the band justice.
In 2011, Soft Kill got going with an album by the name of An Open Door. Featuring a remarkably plain and very grey artwork for the sleeve, it instantly reminded new wave fans of the styling of Joy Division and the early work of their antecedent, New Order. An Open Door introduced the band's sound with “From This Point On”, which had a pulsating synth bass line and a stark guitar sound that sounded like it might have been recorded three decades earlier. Full of single-note guitar runs and strong bass riffs, songs such as “Borders Comfort” kept the austere sound going in a way that might have been put together by Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. “Sea of Doubt” was another standout track from the album, which drew favourable comparisons with bands such as Wire.
In October 2012, Soft Kill put out a single called “Seven Hundred”. After quite a wait, the band released a new album in 2015, Heresy, which gave fans more of Grave's trademark semi-spoken haunting vocals. This was followed up in 2016 with the release of Choke. An eight-track work, this LP made use of sequenced electronic pulses as well as jangly chorus guitars with lots of reverb to produce a mid-1980s sound that could have been produced by a band such as the Cult or even the Smiths. “Whirl”, the first track on Choke, went on to be streamed over a quarter of a million times in the first 12 months after the album was first released.
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