Grimlord - Blood runneth over 2.5/5
1. March of martyrs
2. Blood runneth over
3. Beast we are keeping under cover
4. Grey eminence
6. No surrender!!
7. It bites you!
8. Bitch and the swindler
9. Compensation of fault
11. Resting place
Fear not, intrepid metal warriors: Notwithstanding their (ahem) grim moniker and bloody handprint cover-art, Grimlord have nothing to do with black or extreme metal. To the contrary, this Polish trio specializes in straightforward midtempo traditional metal. Despite 7 years of existence, Grimlord have only recently released their debut CD, a self-released affair entitled 'Blood runneth over'. To get the word out and try to build some positive momentum, these enterprising musicians have aggressively blanketed the worldwide metal media with promotional copies of the CD. Unfortunately, the media have not been kind, as a quick Internet search confirms that one reviewer after another has savaged this CD. Poor reviews and harsh criticism have been the norm for 'Blood runneth over'. Are they justified? Read on and find out.
After spending some quality time with this 11-track, 43-minute affair, I understand why many metal websites have not been enamored of it. Indeed, if one were so inclined, it would be an easy matter to write a scathing review wallowing in this CD's many flaws. Beginning with the production, the sound quality of 'Blood runneth over' is subpar even for independently released CDs in this day and time, with a muddy mix and a painfully irritating drum sound. In terms of performances, guitarist/vocalist Barth La Picard conjures up some cool riffage, but his thickly accented, gruff, nearly tuneless and often off-key vocals are sure to turn off many listeners. If he just stuck to his gruffer, early Rock'N'Rolf delivery, La Picard would be okay; however, too often he either half-speaks his vocal lines (making his heavy accent impossible to ignore) or attempts to sing melodies that his voice is simply not sufficiently versatile to carry. From a songwriting standpoint, the biggest problem is with the unevenness of the style and quality of the songs presented. Do Grimlord want to channel early Running Wild, classic Iron Maiden, and maybe some Morningstar with cool guitar melodies, or do they want to go more in a modern Metallica-type direction with groovy parts, bluesy guitars, and the like? They can't seem to decide, so 'Blood runneth over' contains some songs in each style, resulting in a schizophrenic listening experience. To make matters worse, "X" is a short drum solo that merely underscores the execrable drum sound. Finally, there are a couple of places where the band have incorporated soundbites from politics (soon-to-be ex-President George W. Bush) and movies, including some instantly recognizable Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes mixed with lines whose origins escape me. These seem pointless and out of place, and add nothing to the music.
Despite all of the obvious and glaring problems that 'Blood runneth over' has, the CD is not without its redeeming features. On the songs where the guitar melodies take centerstage, La Picard doesn't overdo or speak the vocals, and the Running Wild/Morningstar/Cast Iron vibe shines through, Grimlord show that they do not deserve to be discarded or rejected out of hand. Yes, there is some promise here. They are, after all, a young band whose hearts are in the right place. With a proper production, hard work in the vocal department, and a renewed focus on the classic metal elements of their sound, I could see Grimlord making some of those merciless reviewers eat their words. So while I can't in good conscience recommend 'Blood runneth over' to most Metal CD Ratings readers, I do encourage all of you to keep an eye out for Grimlord. With a few refinements and a great deal of hard work, they just might surprise some people on their sophomore CD. Best of luck, boys.
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