In March 2020, Vampire Money were forced to postpone their UK Tour dates due to the Covid-19 Lockdown. They began to write and record new songs that took their raw energy and attitude and developed it into a fresh and unique mixture of Alternative-Rock and Gothic Pop-Punk. These writing sessions, and a collaboration with Leicester-based Producer Joey Whelan, led to the creation of their first EP “Cemetery School”.
Heavyweight opener “Doctor Afterlife” brings a mysterious and twisted introduction to the EP. Alfie and Tom’s conversational vocals narrate the listener through a Beetlejuice-esque afterlife waiting room while navigating twists and turns through bouncing riffs and eerie sections.
Attitude and sarcastic charm makes “King of Beggars” a graphic tale of passion. Painting pictures of a vicious vampire romance spiralling into insanity, the lead single grooves at a foot-stomping tempo with moments of dynamic breakdown and tongue-in-cheek swing.
Title track “Cemetery School” delivers fast-paced Punk that takes shots at the teachers and peers that had no faith in the band members. Lyrics such as “make me feel like an alien” and “everytime we meet you always find a way to put me down” provides a relatable scenario for many.
The EP closes with “Taking Back the City”, a soaring Pop-Punk crescendo that encapsulates the band's determination to prove doubters wrong. Here, they transform the blunt statements of “Cemetery School” into a fictional battle that one might find in an anime or superhero film, set “in a city made of metal”.
"Outcast Club" follows "Cemetery School" with a dynamic exploration into social exile and solitude.
“The Witches” is the eerie opener, introducing the EP with soft vocals and light guitar tone before smashing into an infectious chorus. This song tells the story of a Hunter that meets the Witch he is employed to kill, but instead, they find common ground in being social Outcasts and go on to team up against their oppressors. It represents the solidarity between people that often find themselves alone mentally, emotionally or physically.
“As the Crow Flies, So Do I” is a self-reflective commentary on internal suffering and depression. Losing control, trying to escape the suffocating feelings via the fastest possible route (i.e. As the Crow flies) and dealing with inner voices are the overarching themes of this rhythmic tune. “As the Crow Flies…” channels the bands darker grooves, building upon some of their influences such as The Cure and AFI.
The EP’s third track “Mobs Make Meals Out of Men Like Me” is about a lonesome character living in solitude, away from the bright but treacherous life of the City. He peacefully resides in a Mausoleum, until an unforgiving mob storms his land to exile him further. In a Ballroom Blitz style encounter, he fights back alongside the spirits of the surrounding Graveyard. The bridge of the song provides a theatrical contrast to the otherwise dark and anarchic song, while sneering vocals over biting guitars really bring “Mobs…” to life.
As the EP reaches its penultimate track, a calmer dynamic arrives in the form of “Invisible”. The tragic tale of a young woman who falls victim to a terrible crime and then proceeds to take her own life after receiving no support or sympathy for her shocking experience. Alfie’s softer vocal tone sets the scene before rising and falling to and from lines sung through gritted teeth, distorting the peaceful piano with frustration. The song’s origins and imagery were inspired by the psychological spiral experienced by Nellie in the Netflix Horror Series “The Haunting of Hill House”.
The title track and closer “Outcast Club” is the final and vengeful riot of the EP. The Outcasts storm the castle of the oppressors, commentated by Alfie and Tom’s orchestration in a manic frenzy of quick fire lyrics and energetic pop-punk. There is a joyful energy of togetherness that contrasts the surrounding violence and builds towards a final layered and guitar driven crescendo. “The Witches” was the coming together of Outcasts, “Outcast Club” is the time for those Outcasts to have their revenge.
“Cemetery School” and “Outcast Club” have built a detailed beginning and middle for a trilogy the band have named “The Graveyard Chronicles”. This trilogy comes to a dramatic end with their final chapter “Ghost Town”. Featuring more vocal textures than ever before, and some of guitarist Ben's most ambitious riffs and leads, the EP is the band’s biggest and most theatrical yet.
The EP begins with the title track and second single “Ghost Town”, a dark, dynamic and ever-twisting narrative that would not be far out of place on a Tim Burton movie soundtrack. Loaded with menacing riffs and sinister melodies, the listener is guided through a town filled with horrors and demons from all walks of life…or perhaps more “afterlife”.
The EP’s lead single “Cirque de Cauchemars”, delivers all the nightmare-ish antics that it promises. The signature, spooky Vampire Money swing-rock is in full force here, with a vivid horn section emphasising the big-band riff that bookends the song. “Make no mistake, I’m a nightmare” Alfie sings in the chorus as he encourages the surrounding night terrors.
“Riddles in the Dark” follows, where Tom stalks his verses before unleashing the explosive chorus with malevolent intent. The listener can’t help but imagine the moonlit sky and contorted shadows that engulf this track as they are condemned to a grisly demise in a chaotic outro of bouncing rhythm and screaming lead guitar.
Bringing the hectic energy to a brief halt, “Beneath the Scars'' offers a soft and vulnerable respite. Lightly picked guitar strings call out into the darkness as Tom and Alfie mirror their vocals in partly-contrasting perspectives. Tom, coming to terms with ensnaring himself in a mental prison with Alfie joining him with a reply confirming their circumstances are much worse than they initially seemed.
“Believe Me Honey, I’m a Natural” picks up the tempo in a cunning cabaret. It tells the tale of a woman in search of revenge on the evil bigots of the city that have done her wrong. Taking place in a smoky ballroom, Alfie assumes the role of a demonic trickster who is unseen by those in attendance. He bounces through the song, convincing the woman to make use of his gruesome experience and details plans for her vengeance, like a much darker “Drop Dead Fred”.
The EP closes with “Creeper”, a nocturnal train of thought. Tom’s eerie introduction seems to bleed into the bedroom where Alfie begs night terror spirits and sleep-paralysis demons to let him sleep. “Shh” was the first lyric of “Doctor Afterlife”, opener for the “Cemetery School” EP, so with a fitting return as the final lyric of the third EP, the song reaches a jagged crescendo in the breakdown to deliver it’s cliffhanger end.