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Le Griffe > Breaking Strain > Reviews
Le Griffe - Breaking Strain

An awkward flight pattern - 79%

Gutterscream, December 19th, 2007
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Bullet Records

“…the winds of heaven mix forever, nothing in this world can take you from me…”

Fleet-footed nwobhm and the traditional rock-isms of America’s early ‘80s daily grind walk the isle together on Breaking Strain, the later and last ep from a French-less five-piece strafing the line of cool and cruddy.

Through these five tracks slaloms a consciousness that smooches dryly and uneventfully with chapped ballad lips while simultaneously firing its eyes with sinewy energy. During that slalom, you just have to know where to swerve. In other words, if you can find your way around pothole “Breathe Deeply” and ravine-like “You’re Killing Me”, the ride will be a lot smoother. While the former actually manages to keep its head above water with a fizzy little solo and an ever-so-scarcely emotive chorus, the latter drags its unchanging Ratt-like
mid-pace around as if strung to a parachute. If it were 1981 or even downtown ’82, and with some as-the-world-turns understanding, maybe these would've gone over a little better. Well, maybe not. *rolls eyes*

The other half is Maiden-ized by way of Silver Mountain, some Satan, and Legend’s (UK-Jersey) more clear-minded moments, the torch-bearing title cut without defects and amok with all kinds of gilded tandem guitar work and momentum that cakes even more dread on the aforementioned tracks. Huffing along behind it is slouch-free galloper “Movin’ On” with its album-ending, slightly heroic rhythmic rite of passage and “Silent Running”, another decent trotter carting around some fancy fretboard fingering that (realistically) shares the identity of many of the time.

Despite the album’s back cover billing of Amos Sanfillipo co-headlining on leads, it’s actually Tim Blackwood, an ex of the unexpozed Expozer, and with this guy Paul Wood next to him, the musicianship runs past the mill. Vocalist Chris Hatton (who’s also strapped with a guitar) is unfortunately rather unremarkable in his everyday delivery, semi-strong yet kinda unmemorable like a slew of his brethren of the time, and with the way “Breaking Strain” flies out at the start you almost expect him to bellow Dickinson-style like in "Aces High" or any other Maiden fast track.

Well, even with Le Griffe’s dance of two forward, one back, the ep ends strongly, yet not white-fisted enough to quell the fear emanating from its even-numbered tracks. However, the title cut is one to look for above the rest and is the only one that’s seen time on a personal compilation of mine.