Listening to the opening lead swells of The Forging for the very first time was like receiving a deep and sun-soaked embrace from a dear, dear friend of old whom you hadn’t set eyes upon in years. There was that instant yearning to reconnect and reminisce on better times. There’s a fondness and a sincerity locked into that kind of encounter that can never be destroyed. Upon hearing this opening track, that connection was felt once again from a musical standpoint, and it transported me back to the glory days of some of the finest melody strewn doom metal that has ever graced these tender ears! We all remember bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Paradise Lost, Tiamat, Solstice, Cathedral , Katatonia, and as far back as Celtic Frost. Well, I’m delighted to see The Grief carry that torch, or that cross, depending on how you like to see it, and carry those melancholic and brow beaten slabs of epic doom metal to the next generation.
As already mentioned, the opener, The Forging is laced with these heart-breaking, tear-soaked guitars that lead the procession under a clattering of funereal paced percussions, all serenaded by Steve Quinn’s crisp, clean vocals, that dance and delight the airwaves as they soar and weep heavenwards. It’s a powerful track with a glorious chorus that hits a point where you couldn’t envisage the track ever reaching.
With nine tracks to mourn and lament upon, The Grief have really taken the next step in song writing and are delivering it with all the splendour and grandeur that this genre of music thrives upon. Always melodic and always striving forward with its emotionally charged atmospherics, Crucible is a minefield of clever chord progressions and subtle key changes that keep the music flowing and even though its structurally doom based, there’s many nuances buried deep within that keep you enthralled and locked in.
The vocal harmonies and dual guitaring of Paul Quinn and John Murphy in Icon Of All Hope for example, sounds so fresh and vibrant in a genre that drapes itself over all things forlorn, and you know something, it is a revelation to witness! Then you have the galloping and battle-sore riffs of The Architect that crush and flatten before spiralling into a Paradise Lost inspired chorus. To add to all that is being laid out before your eyes, you cannot overlook the mixing and mastering on display. It’s crisp and clean when needed and it can turn sour and soiled when called upon. The guitar tone is like velvet as they interlace and criss-cross each other.
The haunting title track, Crucible is yet another triumph with more lead guitars sparking off those downtrodden rhythm guitars and that deep, grovelling bass, courtesy of Kieran O Leary. The gloom and the sorrow echoed on this track is a beautiful thing when it’s played in tandem with the meatier sections, very My Dying Bride, and that must be a good thing surely!
Closing with A Cycle Broken, The Grief showcase all their strengths, with a tight and metronomically precise style that isn’t found too often in doom circles. Tempo changes, and the transitioning from heavy to soft flows seamlessly and again, the vocal ranges are a pillar of power yet again. The Grief are yet another great Irish band tirelessly plying their trade, crafting brilliant and original compositions, but with a very dignified tip of the cap to all that has gone before it. A superb release.