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Not for black metal fans. - 50%

Symphony_Of_Terror, November 4th, 2004

Behemoth is a band that has changed drastically from “true” black metal, to a fusion of blackened death metal. Grom is a middle point between their black metal roots, and their newer era material Zos Kia Kultus and Demigod. While Grom does a good job with several elements like fast aggressive drumming and harsh aggressive vocals, it also has several elements that are very out of place. Elements like female vocals, clean vocals, and long bridges which seem to progress towards nothing. With many things going on in this album, it presents a challenge to listeners. Who will like this album? Will it appeal more to death metal listeners? Black Metal fans? Or the general Metal enthusiast? Perhaps all?

Grom starts out with your typical intro that many black metal bands may do, or metal bands in general. Its nothing special, in fact it becomes repetitive and trite after forty seconds or so in its simplicity. Generally the goal of such intros is to set a tone or progression that leads into something more powerful, which this does, so mission accomplished. The intro leads into some of the fastest drumming I have heard from Behemoth on the second song of the album The Dark Forest (Cast Me Your Spell) . Equally as heavy as the acclaimed Zos Kia Kultus and Thelma 6, but significantly faster. Its similar to that of Heaven Shall Burn era Marduk. Its quite fast and aggressive with a lot of changes which keep it as the center of focus along with the riff. With all the variations of the drumming there Is a lot to pay attention to, this is not something typical for black metal, since a lot of black metal bands consider drumming to be just there, the riff makes the grim feel to it. Other examples of fast, aggressive, complex, and ever changing drumming are found on other tracks like Thou Shalt Forever Win. Of all the elements of Grom, the drumming strikes me as the best, most interesting, and complex. I feel the drumming and composition of the drumming will appeal to all metal fans alike, what metal head doesn’t like fast and aggressive drumming with many different interesting things going on?

Anyone familiar with Behemoth’s earlier works (The Forest Dreams Eternally to …From The Pagan Vastlands) knows well that they started out as “true” black metal. As time evolved they turned their sounds into that of blackened death metal with focuses on progression. By the release of Grom Behemoth lost many of their black metal roots or changed them to a fusion of black and death. This goes for all except the vocals. Nergal sings on Grom with harsh and screeching vocals that remind me of Darkthrone’s of sorts. They are not as deep as on Behemoth’s later works, but I feel are much better. They are more brutal, and fit the music much better by adding more of an atmosphere. The harsher higher pitched vocal singing from Nergal works well because he can drag out his singing longer which goes well with the constant drumming and guitar work on this album. On Behemoth’s most recent works the music is choppy and broken up, which lends to a choppy, deeper, and less harsh style of singing. That style of singing I feel is weaker and lacks the power and atmosphere that Nergal Creates with his vocals on Grom. This vocal style will appeal to Black Metal fans more than anyone else.

There are parts of this album a metal head would love, where a black metal fan would hate. When an album tries to do too many things it alienates certain demographics of listeners, example (black metal fans, death metal fans, prog fans). What Grom tries to do to much of is incorporate elements foreign to that of straight forward aggressive black metal. This is not to say that other black metal bands haven’t used acoustic guitars, synths, female vocals, clean vocals, this is saying that they are used horribly here to the point where they ruin the flow of the album and make some tracks unlistenable to. On The Dark Forest (Cast Me Your Spell) the song starts off great, aggressive and interesting drumming, grim and relentless riffs, all that you expect from a good black metal album. Then the song crashes, a slow picking acoustic guitar will start to play which breaks the flow of the song as well as the small atmosphere that it was creating. To further exacerbate the disruption to the flow and consistency of the song, clean male vocals followed by mediocre female vocals drone on for too long over slow and boring drumming. Finally burying the song is an out of place guitar solo that is washed out and slow, making the song almost sounds like guitar rock. This break in consistency coupled with bad elements such as clean vocals and a horrible guitar solo completely destroy any enjoyably obtained by the intro track and the music from the beginning of the song.

The songs following are all quite good, except for a very repetitive length of Spellcraft And Heathendom. Nergal says the same thing to much over and over again, and makes his vocals seem less harsh and more screaming. Other such moments which are a turn off or less than par are the week ending to the otherwise strong song Lasy Pomorza. Lasy Pomorza is full of aggressive and fast drumming, grim and raw guitar riffs, and dark, harsh vocals. Making it full of atmosphere and aggressive to head bang to. With such a strong premise set up, the ending just doesn’t do the song justice, thus breaking the consistency once again. Rising Proudly Towards The Sky basically repeats the errors of On The Dark Forest (cast Me Your Spell). Out of place clean vocals is what plaques that particular song the worst. Despite several moments of Grom that destroy the consistency of the album and take away from its most redeeming moments, it still manages to present a worthy listen. I often found myself banging my head to some aggressive, brutal drumming as sell as noticing myself getting into the rhythm of some of the guitar work while admiring the desolate screeching harsh vocals of Nergal.

This album attempts to be many things, early 90’s black metal, blackened progressive metal, death metal, and a fusion of a few of these genres. Unfortunately this hurts this album. Grom attempts to do to many musical styles and incorporate to many musical elements into its music it loses its identity. With all the break in consistency that resemble nothing of previously established black metal, or anything that is recognizable as black metal, Grom fails to be black metal. The album fails to be death metal since the vocals are (when sung by Nergal) clearly black metal. Many people will say labeling a band or album in a genre is unnecessary, just enjoy the music created. Well for Grom’s case, having no identity hurts this album greatly. Through out the entire album Grom tries to find what it is, and fails by trying to be to much. Thus this makes the listener have a difficult time trying to enjoy the album a certain way. Black metal fans will be looking for the atmosphere and aggression, which is to be found with the vocals, drums, and guitars, but as stated before, these moments are shattered by inconsistency. The progressive metal fans will be turned off by the black metal vocals. This album will only find a home in the hearts of the general metal enthusiast while it isolates the listeners of specific genre’s. Ergo this review being done by a black metal fan, I found the album to inconsistent and not powerful enough to listen to, the atmosphere created was weak and broken to much. Perhaps someone who is into heavy metal and death metal will like it more. Over all an average album, not good, but not horrible.