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Stewing in Stagnant Hate - 56%

psychoticnicholai, February 12th, 2018

Grief are a bit distinct in the world of sludge metal in the fact that they don't riff or groove so much as they dirge. This isn't the kind of album you can set in the background of a fight and have it fit like the punchy, barbaric sludge from Buzzoven or Iron Monkey. If I were to compare it to other bands of the time and genre and their songwriting methods, it would be like Eyehategod minus the fast and groovy sections with Grief instead deciding to focus solely on the slow, brooding dirges that work best for someone who's just lethargic and stewing in their own anger at the same time. Come to Grief makes a sluggish and agonizing soundscape the band's top priority at the expense of punch and real memorability. It's an important album, but one that's hard to get excited for given the much less forceful approach to sludge that dominates the album.

The music on this album crawls in a painful, slow, ugly fashion and makes it so that it most of this album's impact comes from how loud and thick everything sounds. Most of the album moves at a similar, trudging pace without much in the way of picking up. These riffs don't really punch, stomp, swing, or even sway so much as they serve to suffocate you in their loathsome miasma of low guitar tones and screamed vocals. Come to Grief is a series of long, trudging dirges that are more toxic than they are infectious. The raw emotion and hate may hit hard, but composition-wise, this is pretty stagnant stuff. It isn't often when one of these dirges snags you and it often takes a while to get into a song which isn't exactly great when you consider how sluggish and monotonous these songs are. Most of this album moves at one pace with very little variance even within songs and that subtracts quite a bit from how much enjoyment you can get out of this heaviness, the rarity of punchier rhythms also does not help. They do show up, but they are short, sparse, and usually surrounded by massive wall of the same dirges you've already been hearing for long stretches of Come to Grief's running time.

That being said, these dirges are aggressive despite their lack of speed and do a lot to lay on a thick coating of gloom. "World of Hurt" has a very morose riff to it with a lot of sway. A lot of the dirges throughout are good at getting across a feeling of misery and it works well to pull you into Grief's grim state of mind. There is also a lot more activity, anger, and movement in the title track which works a a great way to close such an album off with how it blends angry, dark, imposing dirges with a few faster passages. My only wish is that they gave a little bit more of these kinds of songs a bit more influence and made this album sound a little livelier. Close to death still, but lively enough so it can get off the ground.

This is one of those albums where I don't exactly see a lot of the greatness ascribed to it. Come to Grief is unique for opening more space for dirge-like sludge with it's own style of sitting around and angrily slogging along. It focuses a lot on just the raw emotions of being angry, isolated, and nihilistic, but I still think they could have done more to make such a piece come to people. Namely, putting a boot to their rhythms and trying to vary the tempo just slightly since there's only so much of this dragging monotony that you can take in one sitting. Come to Grief is a difficult classic of sludge metal that doesn't really follow the riff-centered or more violent sounds of their peers, or even a swaying brooding style. There are short bursts that go towards those more tantalizing styles, but a lot of what we get is pure, thick walls of angry stagnation that do a lot for mood, but not a lot for actually drawing you in. This album's sparse attitude towards rhythm creates a deep feeling of pessimism, but it also leaves this release as a musically barren wasteland. I'm not much of a fan, but Come to Grief does get a sense of desolate dejection across well, even if it is a bit too barren for it's own good.