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'Grim Serenades'
(Inverse Records)
UK Release: May 8th 2015

Roger Berzerk Fauske

Roger Berzerk Fauske

my grimace

My Grimace from Jyväskylä in Finland are the latest in a ludicrously long line of bands from that part of the world to unleash a debut album on an unsuspecting world. And given the plethora of impressive bands and musos emanating from the Arctic climes, they will have to go some to stand up and be counted, as someone a bit closer to home once said.

'Candidates' is first up and is ideally named, what with a general election coming up here in May. Musically it is a damn site more entertaining than any party political broadcast, an interesting opener – dark synth, heavy crunching riffs, growling a plenty but mellowing to a clever quieter section leading to rampant and uplifting guitar work and best of all the band is on very good terms with the musicians ally, melody. A more than competent start.

'Grim Serenade' kicks in with some industrial effects before more melodic guitar work. The rhythm behind it is very infectious, swinging and bludgeoning in equal measure. The mix of the power Metal sound with the harder edged accompanied by growling, menacing vocals works very well, keyboards adding even greater depth to it, the vocals almost being sandwiched between the layers of instrumentation. The winner on this one is the galloping and at times mood raising rhythmic backdrop to the song.

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'Dire Need' is a lot more in your face right from the off, but again with some great guitar work, leaving scarcely a fret untouched before the song heads off in a deliberate, juggernaut like journey, drums thundering dragging everything along, the master of the organised chaos. A very well crafted song, built impressively on its many layers.

'Abandon All, Leave The Mourning Behind' has a darker feel to it, vocals with not a little injection of menace, the melody behind a lot more sombre taking things in a musically different direction that what has come before. The keys again add to the feelings, using their more radiant sound as a foil but the vocals are what grab you by the sensitive nether regions this time around.

'Reveal Nothing' is another one that comes at you with all sorts of intentions, good and otherwise, but another well-built song with that power Metal vibe streaming through its veins but as well as that some superb backing vocals and clean vocals giving an almost choral feel to sections of it. The mid-section takes things to a whole new level, a bridge before the aggression hits, and it works very well with synth and guitars building the mood, the guitar work again very delicious. As it gathers pace towards the conclusion, everything shifts into hurry up offense before the more measured, deliberate finale.

my grimace

'Drink Of Death' isn't actually about my homebrew efforts, but it is another foot tapping, leg shaking, head banging piece of music. Another interesting one with more melodic intrigue and rhythm behind the growls. The guitars on this one really let fly both on their own and in unison with the rest of the band. The whole feel is different as well, a lot more upbeat. Less grim and more serenade.

'Red Glow' starts off with some Tales Of The Unexpected-esque piano keys before the guitars and drums join the fun. This is very different again although continues with the upbeat feel mixed well with the intermittent descent into the more gloomy. A speedy number, in a way more straightforward than some of what has come before but still well put together.

So to the final one, 'Twilight Zone', and it piles straight in, crunching riffs meaning business, a classic thrash feel to it even before the vocals growl away – time to head down to the mosh pit. It never relents, only slowing down very briefly before the bone bashing is restored. A good closer, mighty and straight to the point.

Without doubt this is a good debut album from another more than capable band from Finland. The guitars really stand out as does the songwriting, always the firmest of foundations for a musical endeavour. It will be interesting to see where they go from here but from a personal perspective, throwing some more clean vocals into the mix would enhance the sound as it does when they are used on this album.

Jere Hämäläinen (Vocals)
Juha Kumpulainen (Guitars, Clean Vocals)
Aleksi Salojärvi (Guitars, Backing Vocals)
Sami Puukko (Bass)
Roope Salminen (Drums)
Lasse Pirnes (Keyboards)

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