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Grip Inc. started with an overwhelming debut and so it came as no surprise that they had to struggle in order to design an equally strong successor. The band decided to choose a more variable approach. Classic thrash metal was still dominating, but it was mixed with atmospheric components. "Empress (of Rancor)" led on to "Descending Darkness" and both tunes possessed an ominous aura, which was inter alia created by the integration of fragile yet sinister keyboard lines. Apart from that, cautious parts and screaming guitars alternated with each other with the effect that the band put the listener in a state of permanent restlessness. This situation was definitely intended and a song like "Code of Silence" underlined the assumption. Its extremely effervescent part also had the purpose to shock the audience.
But the musicians also remained true to themselves. Especially "War Between One" flirted almost painfully with the intensive songs of the debut. I am talking in particular of "Hostage to Heaven". "War Between One" possessed exactly the same kind of razor-sharp riffs and the equal level of aggression. Due to the fact that "Hostage to Heaven" had been one of the highlights of the debut, it was only logical that its successor also satisfied all thrash metal fans in a very enjoyable manner.
Speaking of thrash metal, "Nemesis" was released in 1997, just one year before Slayer began to slay their reputation with the release of the inconsequential "Diabolus in Musica". This hint makes clear that thrash metal bands were not immune against new trends at the end of the millennium. But unlike Slayer, Grip Inc. did not follow the most popular trends with their eyes shut. Apart from the aforementioned atmospheric elements, they combined their basic framework with an extra portion of power. "Rusty Nail" was a slap in the face and its edgy guitar work left the listener no other opportunity than to fall under the spell of the music. Nevertheless, this was not a genuine thrash metal piece, because it lacked of velocity and offered a more or less melancholic mood. Its absence of velocity did not mark an isolated case. Mid-tempo parts and speed sections roughly balanced each other out.
The album benefitted from a flawless production. This was no surprise in view of the involvement of Waldemar Sorychta who also appeared as the main composer of the formation. Despite the fact that the band had integrated some non-thrashing influences, the sound of "Nemesis" could not be confused with that of power or traditional metal albums. Its transparent heaviness, the piercing guitars and the clean overall impression left no doubt that these guys had been musically socialised by thrash metal. Contrariwise, the punk roots of Gus Chambers (R.I.P.) did not play a significant role. However, more important was that his vocal performance was on a par with the instrumental brilliance of his band mates.
Admittedly, the furious debut remained unrivaled. A few songs of "Nemesis" achieved a good level, but they did not have the explosive force that had distinguished the tracks of "Power of Inner Strength". Anyway, the drumming of Lombardo, the riffs of Sorychta and the vocals of Chambers were still a dangerous cocktail and "Nemesis" appeared as a kind of guarantee that thrash metal will never die - minor adjustments not excluded.
The worst thing that can happen to a band is when they start repeating themselves with each album. Thank God, Dave Lombardo was too clever and too experienced to allow something like this to happen. Their debut, Power of… contained dynamites like Ostracized and Hostage to Heaven that obliterated us and destroyed our pitiful ears with the straight-in-your-face thrash metal. Their second album, released in 1997 was titled Nemesis, after the name of a Greek ancient deity that punished those who did wrong and unjust.
Nemesis was a development for the band. This time they decided or even risked, if you prefer, to add more elements to their music like atmosphere, melodies and generally they approached metal in a wider attitude. Only under this aspect can one appreciate compositions like Descending Darkness, The Summoning or the six-minute long Code of Silence. They definitely lack in speed and are not thrash metal to the bone but they’ve got heavy guitars and many interesting breaks. Chambers’ vocals are not so aggressive now but still they fit the climate perfectly. The rhythm section is very steady and Lombardo is… well, he’s only being himself!
But for heaven’s sake do not think that Nemesis denies its thrash base. Because the scales balance under the tremendous weight of explosive, titanic songs like Rusty Nail, War Between One and my favorite Pathetic Liar. These are songs bound to cause merciless headbanging with the fast sharp riffs, thrash drumming and great amounts of energy. All these are amplified by the flawless production that helps the instruments build a metal wall around them, sounding so clear.
This album may be less energetic than Power… but it is more mature and thus very charming and luring. Though for my taste it is one step below its predecessor, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is worse. Do not ignore and underestimate it or else Nemesis will punish you!
Grip Inc will always carry the unfortunate and ill informed tag of “just the side project for Dave Lombardo”. That was how I heard of them, and probably most people who have given their music a listen. What Nemesis proves however, is that they are much more than that. The guitar talent of Sorychta and unique vocal style of Gus Chambers makes them a very interesting band to listen to. If you are looking for a similar sound to Slayer, you have come to the wrong place.
The album starts off with possibly one of my favourite GI tracks, “Pathetic Liar”. The groovy riff and addictive chorus makes it a track that is very easy to enjoy after one or two listens. In fact, most of the album only takes a couple of listens to get into it. In no way is it a progressive or complicated album, just straight-up honest heavy metal.
The album plods along with a mid-paced riff centred song structure. There is little variation in the way the songs are written; riff; chorus; solo; chorus etc. It is the catchiness of the riffs that keeps you hooked. “Scream at the Sky” is probably my favourite track on the album, as it is a pleasant variation from the rest of the songs. The rest of the album just sort of plods along without ever reaching a natural conclusion. This is probably the downfall of the album, there is no defining moment or climax, it just sort of ends. The similarities in the songs is a strength as the simplicity makes the album accessible but is also a major weakness.
Overall, this is a very competent effort by the “side project of Slayer’s drummer”. The lyrics, although vague and meaningless, contain interesting and memorable phrases, and are put across by Chambers very well. The backbone of the album however, is the riff fest that Sorychta provides. Dave’s drumming is as you would expect, competent and precise but not blisteringly fast, it is definitely not the main feature of the album. I give this a 85% because of the strength of the groove laden riffs and because it is a welcome break from the American metalcore rubbish we are normally subjected to in the post-thrash scene.
Picks: “Pathetic Liar”, “War Between One”, “Scream at the Sky”, “Rusty Nail”.
This is my first taste of Grip Inc., so I wont be able to compare it to old or new material. Nemesis uses a different variety of themes, broken into first and second halves. The album starts off pretty good, but then declines into utter crap. So overall, Grip Inc.'s second stab at a good metal album fails!
We start off with some pretty awesome songs. Pathetic Liar and Portrait Henry have some pretty well crafted riffs. After the track War Between One, the guitar riffs get pretty sloppy. There are really no memorable moments after this track, save for the opening riff of Silent Stranger. It's like they just gave up half way through the album. Plus there are hardly any solos, and way to many guitar effects, which lakes in the beginning. This is especially true for songs like Myth or Man and The Summoning. It would be alright if it was every know and then, but the effects are completely overkill.
One thing I enjoy about this album comes from the songs Empress (of Rancor) and Descending Darkness. Empress offers a clean evil sounding riff with a bad ass bass line and some great drumming. It really gives an evil mood, and I love when music can create atmosphere and tension. Descending Darkness is really a two minute intro to the next song, War Between One. Once again we have a bad ass bass line with good drumming, but this time we have some synthesizers that add a lot of mood and character to the song. Add a muffled spoken part and some cool keyboards and you have one awesome intro!
Other than the things I have mentioned above the album is pretty much junk. Most of these songs are mediocre, if even that. The first half of the album will keep you interested, but then you will fall asleep. At least Dave's drumming stays constantly good throughout the whole album. The singing, in my opinion is pretty bad. It sounds like forced Slayer-ish vocals, with occasional James Hetfield gr's! I wouldn't bother picking this album up, unless you find it cheap like I did.
The title gives reference to Dave Lombardo, who's after-slayer, testament days plays in a more traditional style metal than the speed riffages of his former bands. Traditional is hardly what it is but....to die-hard Lombardo fans and probably admiring drummers, its really not impressive compared to....you know.....but the metal is quite strong and in your face. Waldemar Sorychta (guitarist) mixes the tracks so you can definately hear his crunch. While Gus Chambers (vocals) is not anything "special / unique", he offers a good raspy grind to the songs. (anyone looking for operatic, high voiced bands need not apply here) If I could hear Jason Viebrooks on bass I'd critique it too....but its definately back there. (headphones)
The songs do, at times, take on a anthem-like build-up song structure....ie: Scream at the Sky (about hanger 18? Megadeth...not hardly), Descending Darkness & Rusty Nail are winners there
A really good kick you in the ass metal...(no NOT SLAYER) but, it does give a good crunch.......(those looking for progressive gods need not apply)
Waldemar does possess some hintage of slayer-esqeness (as well as Lombardo - drummer god) on the song War Between One. Most Slayer fans will like that well enough.
When all is said and done the album changes pace enough for me, and has enough of its fast paced, as well as grinding slower songs, to keep me interested; and not lacking for being bulldozed with guitar riffs that are produced to be in you face, simplistic but effective.