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On the heels of Immortal's disbanding we have Horgh's (drums) new band, Grimfist. Also in the band is Frediablo (vocals) who has made a name for himself with his own band Gorelord as well as joining long running death metal band Necrophagia and being a part of the black metal group Wurdulak. On guitars and bass it's Ole Walaunet from the groove/death/thrash metal band Deride. A nice talented bunch, with a group like this you have to expect something awesome.
And that's what we get, a real awesome death/black/groove album... yes, a nice decent mix of all 3. All of the music here was written by Ole Walaunet and Horgh and it shows. Musically there's a lot that can be likened to Deride, especially the groove. Guitar wise Walaunet is more than adequate but I would have liked to have heard a few more solos, he's obviously a better than average guitar player. Horgh is great on drums, just as good here as his work with Immortal. He doesn't saturate the music with blastbeats like many other drummers would, he adds more straight double bass beats to give things more groove than blastbeats are capable of.
Frediablo wrote all the lyrics and vocal arrangements and it's a bit of a surprise as the gore lyrics he usually writes are dismissed for more "typical" metal lyrics. Songs about heavy metal, religion, and aggression are used for the most part. Not exactly poetry but it fits the music pretty damn well. Vocally Frediablo uses low death growls, higher screams, and sparingly there's small use of semi-clean vocals.
The first song "Primal Aggression" kicks in right away, no intros, no bullshit. Straight up metal from the get go. It starts off fast and eventually kicks into a nice groove part just before and during the chorus. I like the solo that's used early in the song. "Outline in Black" is next. This song is rather light on lyrics, it could use either more lyrics or the song should have been made shorter as I find things to get rather repetitive depending on my mood. I love the slow part with the funeral bells in the background.
"A World of Wrath" is the third song on the album and has a bit more of a thrash metal bent at the beginning. There are also two lines of "clean" singing near the beginning, which is very surprising for someone like Frediablo especially since it's done so well. I love the drum, guitar, and vocal interplay near the end. "From Hell and Back" is a song about heavy metal and the lifestyle, a bit cheesy but it's easy to get past it when it's such an awesome song. "No Compromise" is another great song, fast but still retains a good amount of groove to it. "Obsession" is next with a good amount of groove and thrash at the same time. I really like how during the chorus the snare drum and crash cymbals are used to accentuate each word. It's definitely up there for one of my favorites cause you can headbang quite well to the whole thing!
The last 4 songs, "Lesser of Two Evils", "Ghouls of Grandeur", "Mosh-Pit Underground", and "Christ Denied" follow much of the same guidelines as the rest of the album with kick ass death/black with some groove and thrash riffs thrown in for good measure.
The one main thing I have to say about this album is that it's very even for quality, every song is up there in your face and kicks your ass from start to finish. Overall, a definite must buy and is probably one of the best albums released this year.
This album has been described as a LOT of things, most of them contradictory. It is none of them. First off, this is neither black metal nor death metal. It also is not particularly a 'classic' or 'old-school' sounding album. Just because it doesn't have all that many blastbeats and the Linkin Park kiddies won't instantly love it doesn't mean it sounds anything like Powerslave.
When all is said and done, this sounds like 1992, except with 2003 production. More specifically, it sounds like a middle-era Pantera album, concentrating on their thrash style. Now this is not really a bad thing, and in fact it's not really a bad album. It's almost as good as Cowboys, and better than Vulgar and Far Beyond, because there aren't nearly as many obnoxious groove moments, but still, most of the riffs are Diamond Darrell production, and the 'extreme death/black' vocals sound more like 'extra screams courtesy of Seth Putnam' (Great Southern Trendkill) and regular screams courtesy of Phil Anselmo than anything else.
So okay, enough with what the fuck this isn't... is it any good? Yeah, it is actually surprisingly good. Some of the songs are far better than others, and honestly when all is said and done, it's a bit overlong for its own good, and I tend to have a hard time listening to it in entirety in one sitting, but in small doses it's fun.
The absolute highlight: WORLD OF WRATH. Remember Heresy? Remember how Pantera busted out all those fucking thrash riffs? Well, imagine that. Pure fucking thrash metal to be found here, and then they throw in a random Rush "weeee are the priiiiiests!!!" moment in that "no illusions, no god above!!!" vocal section. It's not really something I'd call melodic, because it's a real fucking shriek, but it kicks the mighty ass, and is the highlight of the album.
The rest... Outlined in Black is decent, though there is that random scream-and-blast section in the middle. But hey, if Dimmu sounded like that shrieker zone, they'd be an okay band, because after that there is a real smasher of a midpaced riff. Again, with a lot of harsh shrieks over it - really, imagine The Underground in America or something. All these fucking Pantera references, but I'm telling you, THAT is what it sounds like.
Most of the songs feature one really overt thrash riff - some pretty similar to others, like one of the transition riffs in To Hell and Back sounding like the intro riff in From Hell and Back, but there's a few real surprises, like the Sodom-sounding section in the middle of No Compromise. NEVER AGAIN, TAPPING THE VEIN!!! Moshpit Underground sounds a bit more like old Machine Head than Pantera, though of course nowhere near as insipid - there are, fortunately, no whiney clean vocals to be found on the album. Just the harsh vox 99% of the time, and that one completely random Rush moment, which is never to be seen again, oddly enough.
Obsession totally has some groove moments similar to Vulgar Display of Pantera, but then they also throw in a random 80s thrash/power riff at 1.25 that just screams LAAZ ROCKIT (Annihilation/Know Your Enemy) just with modern production. In fact, this is one of the best riffs I've heard in recent years, and that includes the tons of old-school albums I've been acquiring. Then, under the solo, we have kind of a reprise of World of Wrath with the noodly solos over the classic riffage. Yes, there is a lot of classic moments in here, but then there's also a lot of early 90s-isms, and that is why I cannot possibly label this the second coming of Priest in the East.
But hey, for what it is, it's damn good. Album of the year for 2004? Fuck no, not when Zetrodus takes the planet by force. But it's pretty good, and I find myself spinning it a lot and thus I'm probably gonna purchase it - which is saying something, given that I purchased maybe 8 albums with a 2003 release date, and 2004 is looking pretty similar. If you like modern production, middling Pantera, and thrash (but not so much thrash as to make Vio-lence envious), I encourage you wholeheartedly to find this. I think www.grimfist.com has samples, so see for yourself.