|Review: Grendel - Dragon's Awakening|
Label: NHR Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: May 2, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
I ran across this band's debut Beowulf some years ago and really liked it. Despite that another BM band about Beowulf should be so cliché as to become almost retro, I found it a fresh and engaging album, bursting with talent and melodic flair. Thus I was more than happy to be offered their follow-up, the long-awaited Dragon's Awakening.
Less abrasive and more melodic than Beowulf, Grendel's new album has managed the feat of taking their style from that album and refining and polishing it to produce a more unified sound. This is still aggressive Black Metal with a lot of energy and guitar-shredding ferocity, but they have managed to fuse the melodic dash of the leadwork directly into the riffs, resulting in slashing barrages of tight and complex, but still intensely melodic and hooky riffs. The guitar sound is less raw this time, but the keen tone gives much more play to the melodic underpinnings and two-guitar interweavings of the riffwork. There is always so much more going on in the music here than it seems at first spin. As before, vocals alternate between harsh and clean. The harsh vocals are lower mixed and less venomous this time, which integrates them into the whole more smoothly, and as before the trade-offs between the rasps and cleanly-sung parts are very deft and serve a songwriting purpose, rather than seeming arbitrary and forced.
This is reminiscent of a lot of underground Folk/Viking bands without sounding too much like any of them. If I had to compare this band to anyone, it would be Berserk or a more aggressive Forefather, maybe Suidakra, but that only scratches the surface, as Grendel are really doing their own thing and doing it really well. This is a superior disc of melodic but still fierce Viking Metal that I cannot stop spinning, because every time I hear something I didn't hear before. One of the year's best.
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