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Ex-Disgust guitarist Katsuyuki Nakabayashi started Grim Force in 1999. Before recording this, the band's debut album, the man briefly joined Ritual Carnage. On turn, Ritual Carnage's guitarist Eddie Van Koide guests on this one, playing lead guitar.
Just like Ritual Carnage, Grim Force is heavily influenced by 1980s thrash metal. Bursting riffs and great melodic guitar leads hark back to golden era of thrash ('Lunatic', fast blast 'God Cries! World Dies!', moshfest 'World of Chaos' and dark 'Struggle'). Hardcore elements are also heavily present (lyrics, 'Dig Your Own Gave', punky 'The Dead to Be Judged'). Maybe it's them that make Grim Force sound modern and not just another bunch of "retrothrashers". I hear similarity to post 1990s Testament for sure, especially in guitar work ('The Sin of the Blackest Dye'). All the elements get mixed in many a song. Songwriting isn't very varying and this seems to be the biggest problem here. When I get to 'Dig Your...', it begins to sound repeating, but great 'Struggle' woke me from boredom. "Random" button on CD player is a bloody good invention! 32 minutes isn't very much of music, but if this includes all the ideas the band had, then it's better than 50 minutes of too similar songs.
Things that help this out from the mass of averageness, with a few great songs, are the band's energetic performance and devastating production. Guitars are fucking shredding let me tell you and very heavy indeed! Drums (by ex-Radicliz Masaki Kamomiya) are everywhere as is lady Sonoe Takahata's bass, which sounds metallic slapping like on many a Testament record. The Katsunori Owa production must be bowed to, it's bloody heavy and raw, just like metal album should sound. Wes Benscoter cover art crowns this nice package.
Lyrics are, in a nutshell, about this chaotic world. Lunatics, wars and such themes are covered. God seems to appear in majority of the songs, but in a negative context. Mr. Nakabayashi's voice is one thing I don't like. He sounds similar to Master's Paul Speckmann. Invarying hardcore throat assault gets boring after a song or two.
Thrashers should check this one out, if found for a suitable price. This gives quite a beating, after all. And a very sore neck.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2004)