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The debut of Grip Inc. was released during the infertile years of thrash metal. While Slayer indulged in punk before they turned to something indefinable, once great icons of thrash such as Destruction or Exodus were completely out of order. Even more bands vanished from the scene. Instead of writing a successor for the excellent "Time Does Not Heal", Dark Angel were already comatose and this was exactly the status of the whole genre, too. It was therefore up to Grip Inc. to breathe new life into the actually amazing genre. Thankfully, the prominently staffed formation saw no reason to hesitate. "Power of Inner Strength" became a masterpiece.
Grip Inc. acted with a maximum of motivation, temperament and belligerence. Added to these fundamental elements was their tremendous amount of musicianship. Not to mention that the dudes could not be seen as debutants in the strict sense of the term. It seemed therefore reasonable to expect a mature work, but I did not foresee the here presented thrash metal explosion. The album sparkled with flattening guitars ("Cleanse the Seed", "Heretic War Chant"), confusingly excellent drumming (the intro revealed the Cuban roots of Lombardo) and an outstanding sound. But its most impressive feature was constituted by its riffs. Even the sharpest blade turned out to be a blunt weapon in comparison with the here offered riffs. The most intense attack carried the name "Hostage to Heaven". Thousands of riffs have been written, but a lot of them did not leave a huge impact. Consequently, the main riff of "Hostage to Heaven" trampled them into the dust and the solo of Waldemar Sorychta was also perfectly embedded. But the pure vehemence of this song reflected only one of the facets of the multi-national formation.
Due to the cleverly arranged running order of the songs, already the directly following "Monster Among Us" stood in sharp contrast to its predecessor. The sick vileness of pedophiles was perfectly mirrored by the observant, malignant riffs. In addition, Chambers expressed his contempt for these "monsters" in a very convincing manner. "Innate Affliction" also possessed pretty unsettling guitar lines, but they alternated with a powerful and profound riff. This song - as well as the other pieces - did not lack of substance and depth without offering metal for academics. Grip Inc. enriched the songs with the necessary degree of significance, but they did not neglect the power of thrash. A masterly executed balancing act. In particular the lyrics of Chambers played an important part in this context. I did not agree with every statement, but he had definitely a lot to say. Thankfully, he did not appear as a precocious preacher. Chambers just referred to real life scenarios instead of singing strange lyrics about Satan and other nonsense. Not to mention that he performed in a very passionate and intense manner.
Regardless of the well-conceived lyrics, the compositions themselves were the crucial factor for the outstanding quality of the album. The malignantly creeping "Ostracized" had the dangerous charm of a venomous snake, while the constantly growing "Guilty of Innocence" culminated in a thrashing whirlwind. I admit that the average velocity of the songs was not very high, but the merciless guitars left no doubt that this album adored the Gods of thrash. By the way, the crystal clear and mind-blowing production of "Power of Inner Strength" picked up the spirit of the sound of albums such as "Reign in Blood" and put the fascinating tunes in the right light. Only one song did not meet the highest expectations. The acceptable "Colors of Death" paled beside the other tunes and appeared slightly colorless (please clap your hands for this gigantic pun). Anyway, this intriguing debut hit the nail on the head and it is still a highly recommendable thrash metal titan.
Many fans were not surprised by Lombardo’s decision to abandon Slayer back in 1993 though none wished for it.. The reason was that Slayer wanted to go on tour while Lombardo couldn’t due to his wife’s pregnancy. So slayer decided to go on tour with another drummer. That was it. Their paths were separated. Shortly after, Lombardo participated in a project called Voodoocult with Chuck Schuldiner of Death, where he got some new experiences. It was obvious that he yearned to form his own band where he would have the upper hand on the decisions of how they should sound. So in the middle of 1994 he formed Grip Inc. along with three other great musicians, Sorychta, Chambers and Viebrooks. Soon their debut was released with the title Power of Inner Strength. It was a kiss of life for the genre of modern thrash metal.
Power of… is a great album, a titanic energy that possesses the force of the meteor that exploded in Siberia in 1908. it holds the force of all nuclear testings that have taken place in Nevada and creates a feeling of panic. These are a few words that are able to describe this exhibit of modern thrash which has brilliant guitars, proper vocals and is a seminar for drum playing. Without any annoying nostalgia for the past, Grip show their tendency towards extreme and bothering for sensitive ears heavy metal.
From the first moment to the last Grip do only one thing and that is to thrash! Hostage to Heaven and Ostracized are two metal blasters with razor-sharp riffs, paranoid solos and the familiar killing drum smashing of Lombardo. Gus Chambers may not be screaming like Araya but his singing is fucking aggressive and strong. Their energy will force against the wall and tear you apart.
Guilty of Innocence and Heretic War Chant come to obliterate anyone who is unaware of Grip’s tremendous, pounding rhythm. The many sudden breaks become the band’s trademark and the riffs keep pointing to your poor little brain. Lombardo IS the best drummer in thrash metal and with his beats he leaves no chance for his rivals.
There is not even one dull song in this colossal creation of Grip. Nothing to make you claim they are false. This album honors its composers and makes Lombardo proud of it. Should anyone ask you if thrash metal is alive, you know what your answer has to be!
An unfortunately overlooked album from the mid-90's. For most people this is just the band that Dave Lombardo had after Slayer that they don't care about or some people even refer to them as "Slayer Jr."... which I never really understood as this isn't really like Slayer aside from the drumming, which is going to be obvious when you have someone who is instantly recognizable behind the kit. Slayer is fast, aggressive thrash (or used to be) and Grip Inc. Is a modern (for the time) metal band that uses thrash and a hefty dose of groove.
Power of Inner Strength is Grip Inc.'s first album and to me their best. It came together on this album and I don't think they ever really regained what happened here. The riffs are just heavy, monstrous, and groovy. They would later follow that groove a bit more and lose some of the thrashy feel of this album.
The album starts off with a little intro created by Dave Lombardo with some programmed and live drum bits. It's not too special and it's not much of a real build up especially when the next song, Savage Seas (Retribution), is like a build up in itself. Savage Seas has a very interesting drum/guitar interplay. The way the toms and bass drums play with the guitars while the snare keeps the beat sounds very interesting, not necessarily a revolutionary idea but the way they work together is just magic. Shortly after Gus Chambers roars in with his trademark shouts. Now originally I hated his vocals as I found them rather boring as for the most part he is just shouting but Gus grew on me with enough time.
Hostage to Heaven is a great thrasher, the way the riff is you could say it was possibly a precursor to a lot of the "swedish thrash". The main riff kind of has that bouncyness that has a way of downplaying the chugs of the riff, much like some of the swedish bands. When Dave kicks out the double bass on this one you better watch out! One thing I noticed on this album is Dave seems to ride the toms a lot more than he did in Slayer, maybe an evolution of his playing?
Guilty of Innocence is another favorite of mine from the album. From the beginning it plays with a softer piece going into a heavy double bass version of the same piece. A very basic idea that has been used many times over but it works. Ostracized has just this really heavy groove riff throughout the song that just makes me want to bang my head. Gus' vocals during the chorus ("He is the man under the bridge!!!") Are, as always, compelling.
The rest of the songs on the album are just as great as the ones I've mentioned, I'm not joking. Grip Inc. Had the potential to be a very important band in metal but I think that ended up squandered partially do to their lack of a great follow-up to this album as well as the inherent problems of being labelled "Slayer Jr." and the overall lack of interest in metal at the time.
Many Thrash fans highly anticipated Grip Inc.'s first release. I remember there being a lot of hype around it when it first came out. A lot of people probably expected Power Of Inner Strength to be a Slayer clone and nothing more. Thankfully, this notion is very wrong. Yes, there are some similarities to Slayer, but overall there is a more modern Thrash sound, often being very similar to early Machine Head (which is a good thing in my books). The CD is sort of split off into two different types of songs. There are the straight, fast thrashers; these songs are full of fast drumming and great double bass, with crunchy riffs that Thrash fans will drool over. The best of these are "Hostage To Heaven" and "Ostracized", which are in my opinion, really good songs. The other songs are more mid-paced and more hardcore/Machine Head influenced. These songs do contain some faster parts, but focus more on drum rhythm and progression such as "Savage Seas (Retribution)" and "Cleanse The Seed" which are quite successful and are enjoyable songs. The rest, however, are decent songs, but come across as high quality filler more than anything. They are not really bad songs, just not as throat grabbing or neck breaking as the other songs. I will say this though: despite the drop in quality with these "filler" songs, they do add nice dynamics and variation to the CD. Power Of Inner Strength would get quite boring if it was filled with 11 straight Thrash songs.
Dave Lombardo's drumming is really good. He isn't as technical as drummers like Gene Hoglan, but he can sure play fast and precise, and his tom work and double bass sound amazing. Every time Lombardo goes into his double runs, you can't help but bang your head furiously; and thankfully, he never over uses it. The vocals are sort of a hardcore shout/Thrashy ruff style. It is somewhat unique and grows on you over time. There are some phrasing mishaps, but overall the vocals are strong and fit the music nicely. The guitar work is good; the riffs are nice and tight, with the some good leads being spread throughout, although the leads are far from the highlight of the CD. In short, we have a CD here that has a lot of really good songs, and some mediocre ones. So it is not perfect but if a mix of Slayer and early Machine Head sounds appealing to you, this is definitely worth picking up, as you could do a lot worse.
Song Highlights: Savage Seas (Retribution), Hostage To Heaven, Colors Of Death, Ostracized, Cleanse The Seed, and Heretic War Chant.