SOUL GRINDER: Chronicles Of Decay
Release year: 2020
Label: Black Sunset
German Soul Grinder have been practising their brand of old school death metal since 2018. In that time, they’ve released one EP and now this, their debut full-length album. Not bad for a young band – but then, all of the members of the band have plenty of previous experience, so they’re not exactly newcomers to the field.
So, let’s see what the chronicles of their decay look like…
In a nutshell, Chronicles Of Decay offers almost 50 minutes of old school death metal owing a lot to the classic Swedish sound. The dry and almost brittle guitar sound definitely reminds one of the old swedeath style, as do the gruff, hoarse growls. However, the German trio don’t look just to Sweden for inspiration; there are also elements of faster, more brutal US death metal in the mix, some more thrashing elements, and a lot more.
The different strands of death metal thrown into the stew that makes up Soul Grinder’s sound don’t really melt into one putrid brown pulp. Instead, you can often quite easily distinguish them apart: that chunky bit there is brutal death metal; that sinewy stuff is definitely thrashy; that runny meat is prime swedeath; and so on. This is both a pro and a con for the album. On the pro side, it keeps the album varied. On the flipside, it sometimes risks making the album a bit incoherent. Luckily, the basic foundation in the Swedish sound is strong enough to keep things in line almost all of the time.
Basically, there’s a lot of good stuff going on here. The sound is nice, the vocals work, the playing is tight, and the songwriting is decent. However, 50 minutes of material is just too much when it isn’t absolutely legendary material. The band could easily have cut out 10-15 minutes, e.g. two to three songs, and made a somewhat shorter and tighter album. As it is now, the last third of the album gets to be a bit too much – not because of any quality drop, but because the album overstays its welcome a bit.
Still, overall, Chronicles Of Decay has more positives than negatives. The band are obviously quite open-minded in what elements they want to include in their metal of death, which makes up for some interesting moments on the album. On the other hand, it does mean that Soul Grinder doesn’t deliver a strong sense of identity with this, their debut. But again on the other hand, this is only their debut: they have time to continue honing their craft and expression and mould a sound entirely their own from these different strands. Better this, than emulating one or the other school of sound from the go. When the only two flaws worth mentioning on the album are its slightly too long running time and the lack of “hit songs”, things aren’t bad as debuts go.
In conclusion, Soul Grinder seem like an act to keep an eye on. The debut album isn’t by any means flawless, but it does present a band who sound like they could go on to do some really good stuff. There’s a lot of promise here, I just hope they stick around long enough to cash in on it!
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