|From the liner notes of the See You In Hell / Fear No
Evil 2 on One CD
Grim Reaper came and went after three albums. All were filled with the
demonic imagery that marked similar heavy bands of the mid-'80s. But,
unlike some of their hard-rocking brethren, this furious foursome managed
to chart in the United States with all of their releases.
The group was formed in 1979 in their native Droitwich, England, by guitarist
Nick Bowcott, who would also be credited for chants on their albums. He
worked with various local players before finally settling on a line-up
that included singer Steve Grimmett, bass guitarist Dave Wanklin and various
drummers. Building a following around their hometown, they got a big break
in 1981 when a track called "The Reaper" (with a singer other than Grimmett)
was featured on "Heavy Metal Heroes," a compilation of hard rock bands.
Big break two came when they were signed by Darryl Johnston, president
of England's Ebony Records. Johnston decided to work with the group after
hearing three tracks produced in a marathon 24-hour recording session
Grim Reaper had won after besting 100 other competitors in a local "battle
Grim Reaper debuted in the summer of 1984 with the roaring "See You In
Hell" (RCA 8038), which was recorded in just four days. It charted in
August, peaking at No. 73 on Billboard's pop chart. Their music was too
wild to get much Top 40 radio exposure, but a video for the title track
did get into heavy rotation on MTV, which helped the album sales, as did
a national tour that year. It also received good reviews from critics
like Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times, who gave it a first-place
rating on his "Heavy Metal Meter".
With the solid success of their debut, Grim Reaper wasted little time
on their follow-up to "See You In Hell". "Fear No Evil" (RCA 5431) - which
introduced new drummer Marc Simon (was recorded in nine days). It was
issued in May 1985 and charted a few weeks later.
Sales of the second album were helped by another tour and a powerful video
of "Fear No Evil" directed by Chris Gaberin, who had worked on clips for
everyone from John Cougar Mellencamp to Quiet Riot. It was filmed on location
west of London, near Heathrow Airport. It introduced the creepy Grim Reaper
character featured on their album covers, a half-man, half-wolf whose
motto was "Fear The Reaper: No one escapes his evil power." "Fear No Evil"
may have been an over-the-top video, but its powerful imagery and the
strong performance of the group made it a popular entry on MTV.
In the late summer of 1987 the group was back with what would prove to
be their third and final album - "Rock You To Hell" (RCA 625). It was
another best-seller. It also introduced another new drummer, Lee Harris.
Despite their success, there were problems in the band that finally led
to their break-up after "Rock You To Hell". Founder Bowcott would become
a writer for "Circus" magazine and later work for Marshall Amps in New
York City. Grimmett did much better for himself, joining Onslaught, which
had been formed in 1983 as a punk-metal hybrid by drummer Steve Grice
and guitarist Nige Rockett. Later joined by singer Paul Mahoneyand bassist
Jason Stanford, they cut "Power From Hell" for the Cor label in 1985.
They then recorded "The Force" for Under One Flag before moving to London
Records to work on "In Search Of Sanity". At that point, Grimmett came
on as lead singer for the album, which came out in 1989. He would quit
a year later, disappointed by critical reaction to the album.
After Onslaught, Grimmett formed a new group -Lionsheart - that had a
more melodic, though still hard-rock feel than some of his past work.
He signed with Music For Nations, which issued their self-titled 1993
debut. While England and the U.S. didn't seem to care much for their powerful
sound, the album fared better in the rest of Europe and Japan. That led
to their second release, "Pride In Tact", which came out in '94.
In 1994, Grim Reaper's video for "See You In Hell" was briefly revived
when it was used in an episode of MTV's "Beavis And Butthead". The little
cartoon twerps made fun of the dated sound and imagery of the group but
when they were at their peak, Grim Reaper was a powerful band that could
more than hold their own with any other metallic rockers. This collection
of their first two RCA albums makes that clear.
All Music Guide
Formed in 1979, and featuring Steve Grimmett (vocals), Nick Bowcott (guitars),
Dave Wanklin (bass) and Lee Hams (drums), Grim Reaper are a typical example
of the bands that formed the UK heavy metal revival of the early 80s known
as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. They epitomized most of the movement's
strengths (a fresh, down-to-earth approach, enthusiasm, and powerful but
melodic guitar riffs), but also the weaknesses that plagued it (bargain-basement
production values and daftly melodramatic lyrics delivered in an inappropriate
falsetto). In 1994 one of their videos was dragged out of the crates in
the MTV cartoon Beavis And Butthead, and was introduced with an incredulous
'Is this Spinal Tap?'. While they flirted with infernal imagery, Grim
Reaper were never a Satanic band, as was claimed by some critics (including
fundamentalist Christian preachers), and actually suffered from being
a little bland. Their debut, See You In Hell, was probably Grim Reaper's
finest moment, particularly the catchily anthemic title track, and the
band enjoyed some success on both sides of the Atlantic during the mid-80s.
Ultimately, they could neither repeat nor build on this success, and in
1988 they broke up. Grimmett joined Onslaught, then Lionsheart.
Grim Reaper was a 1980s British metal band who played in the typical Euro-metal
style of melodic vocals and simple riffs. They also had a very strong
liking for demonic imagery and over-the-top theatrics. The group is best
known to many '90s listeners through an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head
in which their video for "See You in Hell" is commented on rather unfavorably.
Steve Huey, All Music Guide
Onslaught AMG Profile / Review
This UK thrash quintet, originally conceived as a punk/metal hybrid,
was formed in Bristol in 1983 by guitarist Nige Rockett and drummer Steve
Grice. With the addition of vocalist Paul Mahoney and bassist Jason Stallord,
they recorded Power From Hell on the independent Cor label in 1985. This
opened the doors to a contract with Under One Flag, the thrash subsidiary
of Music For Nations. The Force saw the band expand to a quintet, with
the arrival of new vocalist Sy Keeler; Mahoney was relegated to bass and
Stallord switched to rhythm guitar. The album was heavily reliant on the
styles of Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax, with little original input. Mahoney
was replaced by James Hinder on bass shortly after the album was released.
Moving to London Records, In Search Of Sanity was their make-or-break
album. Before it was completed, Steve Grimmett (ex- Grim Reaper ) and
Rob Trottman replaced Keeler and Stallord, respectively. After a series
of delays, the album finally surfaced in early 1989. Producer Stephan
Galfas had watered down their aggressive sound in an attempt to court
commercial success. Even the cover version of AC/DC 's 'Let There Be Rock'
proved less strong than expected, and the material generally lacked distinction.
They had moved away from hard-line thrash towards mainstream metal with
negative results. The album was slated by the metal media and Grimmett
quit in 1990. A replacement was found in the form of Tony O'Hara, but
the band were dropped by their label soon after. Disillusioned, the members
went their separate ways in 1991, with Grimmett forming Lionsheart.
AMG EXPERT REVIEW: The third Onslaught album to be released on as many
labels, In Search of Sanity also featured the band's third vocalist, former
Grim Reaper screamer Steve Grimmett. Not that the experienced Grimmett
manages to lend any more personality to the band's predictable metal arsenal.
"Shellshock" and the title track are competent, if rather long, examples
of the band's unbearably average classic/thrash metal hybrid. The blunt
riffing of "Blood Upon the Ice" and "Power Play" display a noticeable
Exodus crunch and "Welcome to Dying" (clocking in at an absurd 12 minutes)
sounds like a Metal Church outtake. Surprises? Well, they do knock out
a thrashy take on AC/DCís "Let There Be Rock," but the results are interesting
at best. And opener "Asylum" is the kind of generic not-as-creepy-as-you-think
instrumental that gives metal a bad name.
- Ed Rivadavia