It’s the first time I’m encountering Grimmsons, a five-piece sludge metal outfit from Antwerp. While a song called “∞” is cranking out, my head marries the male bravado of De Staat with the masochism of ID!OTS. Surely, there was no doubt about where Grimmsons were originated, but boy was I wrong about the amount of testosterone and sexism that I ascribed to this band.
I realised this when I went back to listen to the whole EP. Album opener “Vanguard” sports a lonely threesome of guitar, violin and organ looming about the scene, lulling the listener into a fuzzy bliss. Perfectly at peace, he is rudely awakened by the aforementioned “∞”. From a wall of guitars riffing over a 6/8 drum pattern, the song launches into a surprisingly melodic verse that sure enough features a fair amount of catchiness. Through cheeky lyrics singer Sven ‘Wobbe’ Stokmans then leads the song into an eardrum destroying chorus, where for the first time the listener is truly confronted with the EP’s ethos “Hit me, hit me, monsters! / Bring me, bring me, Death!”
Despite what I said before, “Grimmsons” still has enough bravado in order to be convincing. However, all this violence is put into perspective by a quiet bridge, where our Wobbe – in a Lou Reed-esque voice – touches upon the hardship of a soldier’s life and the terrors of fighting a war.
RELEASE DATE: 29 March 2014 LABEL: Independent
The more I listen to this EP, the more it dawns on me that Grimmsons are more than the average metal-band that indulges in gore and violent imagery. It’s not that these Belgians are some philosophical wimps that explore “the psychological effects of modern warfare on the contemporary human in the role of a disillusioned soldier” (read in analytical voicing). “Changelings” to me illustrates this in a perfect manner. Its opening lines “Crawling through your woods at night!” just make me think of horror movie settings. Contrary to this, the song’s climax, where the singer implores the listener to “Obey the animal!”, just take my mind right into the psyche of a young lad who is ordered into battle by a ruthless commander. This EP seems to have two sides; one that makes you want to put on your combat boots and crush everything in your path, and one that makes you wonder about the realistic implications of war and violence.
This temperamental duality of “Grimmsons” is also displayed on a musical level. I’ve mentioned that this band plays sludge metal at the beginning of this review but this EP is in no way an endless pounding in the face. The violent riffing is frequently being relieved by the tremolo picked guitars that have made their entrance in “Vanguard”. “Changelings” even sports a build-up that is not uncommon in post-rock music and the same song takes four whole minutes before it gets back to its metal ethos. “Haza” is a short interlude that sees “Grimmsons” becoming even more woolly with soundscapes before they launch into “Erika”.
“Erika” is a song that fascinates me. Its dissonant guitar work just brings me right to being on edge and the song just feels like its the end of an era, rather than the end of just an EP. Another spoken-word interlude marks this song before Wobbe launches into a violent climax screaming “We’ll remember your name!” and this bit just leaves me puzzled. On the one hand it seems perfectly obvious that this song is about a friend of one of the band members who died prematurely and they simply wrote this song to honour her memory. However, I can’t help but notice that the lyrics mention a date “november 1956” which happens to be during the Vietnam war, “Erika” seems to be an allusion to America, with the mutilated victims of this unrighteous invasion by the United States screaming “We’ll remember your name!”
“Grimmsons” is an EP that, despite the first impression it leaves, contains a deep reaching message. The same deepness, however, is missed in the EP’s production.In my headphones the songs seem to hold up fine, but the moment I play “Grimmsons” through my stereo set the mix just leaves me craving for more. The bass misses a lot of punch and the second guitar is just a wall of mid-level noise. Actually, in general the guitars just seem really flat and underdistorted. Even when I switch on the “super bass”-function I’m not getting the punch in the face I’m expecting.
It’s not that this greatly diminishes the impact that “Grimmsons” has on the listener. It does however prevent this EP from outperforming its contemporaries into the sphere of greatness where Grimmsons, without a doubt, one day will be.