Label: Prosthetic Records
Pressing: First Press, white /100
Misery loves company. I always seem to be drawn to bands like Grieved. It’s a particularly misanthropic style of Hardcore, and one that you will probably recognise. There may well be several current bands you could compare them to, however I don’t feel there are any that I can name to make an accurate parallel. I find myself likening them to a particular niche of bands that aren’t very prevalent in Hardcore at the moment. European bands such as Gold Kids, Midnight Souls and even November Coming Fire. However, they mostly remind me of Australian band Carpathian, particularly the late style and direction that Carpathian were heading in with their final album ‘Isolation’, and the swan song EP ‘Wanderlust’. So if you still miss the aforementioned bands like I do, Grieved are welcomed and comforting; a familiar but altogether brooding sound. As I’ve hinted at with all the bands mentioned so far, it seems to be a style of Hardcore that prevails outside of the US. They aren’t gothic or dramatic or even satanic, despite being from the arguable birthplace of Black Metal. However, everything about how Grieved portray themselves has a darkness to it. From their name and logo, to the song titles and lyrics, right through to the tone, pace and structure of their music.
From the sinister opening guitars on first track ‘Opaque’ to the jangling coda of ‘Reverie’, the self titled album is a particularly gloomy brand of heaviness. However it is not an overbearing, tiresome or difficult album to listen to. It is played with confidence, power and a lean efficiency. I don’t think it’s an album that you can dip in and out of; like the bands of this ilk before Grieved, you will either really get on board with the sound or it will pass you by. ‘Fogbound’ is an early high point, with a mid-tempo trudging pace of crunching rhythm guitar that’s almost reminiscent of Brutality Will Prevail on ‘Scatter The Ashes’. Staggering snares and toms thunder over the top, laying a bold introduction for the fiercely bitter vocals to deliver the blues. ‘Fogbound’s feedback finish shifts us into ‘June 22’, the first of two brief instrumentals that appear on the album which help in crafting two distinct, if similarly toned, soundscapes. The tracks for each side of the vinyl swirl into each other, like dark ink dropped into freezing cold water. ‘Drain’ picks proceedings back up into a lurching pace with a fantastically fierce undertone to the guitar work. In fact throughout the album you are clammoured with very solid, workhorse like guitars. It is not overly flamboyant, but the two guitarists create a formidable sound that does have depth, with pitch bends, jangly sections of clean guitar, crunching riffs and great dirges of open, fuzz drenched tones. ‘Turn Cold’ finishes side A with traipsing drums, rumbling bass and swirling guitars all building towards the bitter closing statement, summing up the vibe felt throughout the album “You dug a grave and buried us both, but when my body turned cold, you left me alone…” as the music then proceeds to stagger off into nothingness.
Side B continues much the same may. ‘Losing Touch’ makes a purposefully sluggish start, before its second movement breaks out into drum fills, downplayed blast beats and hammering rhythms, building to a false crescendo as it decides to reign in the unbridled drum flurry, pulling it back down to that sluggish pace for the jarring and rumbling bitterness of ‘Shattered’. Second instrumental ‘Synethesia’ is almost a lullaby before the chugging guitar work of ‘Asunder’ rattles along, acting as a nightmarish undertow for Marcus Lundqvist’s screams of “Lost in the dark”. The album closes with ‘Reverie’ which employs jangly guitar work to bookend one final trudge through the dark Stockholm Blues of Grieved’s musicianship. As I’ve said, this a rather particular niche of Hardcore. I used to play Carpathian’s ‘Isolation’ album over and over and over again, and in ‘Grieved’ I have finally found an album that is worthy to take its place. It’s dark, negative and misanthropic in tone, but sometimes an album like this is exactly what you need to hear. This one is for the dark days. “See life pass me by, with bloodshot eyes, sleepwalking ’til the day I die…”