Released: 2004, Steamhammer/SPV/Playground Music
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Mr. Dave Lombardo, who has been an in-and-out member of Slayer, is back with a new album from his band Grip Inc. Again it seems like he’s a member of Slayer and Grip Inc is the side project. Lombardo needs no further introduction.
Grip Inc.’s debut POWER OF INNER STRENGTH (1995) was followed by NEMESIS (1997) and in 1999 came SOLIDIFY. Since then Grip Inc has remained silent. Guitarist Waldemar Sorychta produced the album and he’s done a good job. He has created a very dark and shadowy sound but at the same time kept it very aggressive. Lombardo is at the top of the mix with his very impressive drumming. The album was recorded in Woodhouse Studio which is Sorychta’s studio. Grip Inc has 11 tracks on this album. Lombardo alters his drum playing between very fast and very slow and also uses a lot of double bass throughout the whole album. Sorychta has a very tuned down guitar on parts of the record; he is also in charge of the keyboards. Gus Chambers has a voice that matches the music perfectly. He is not a great singer like Tom Araya, but he impresses when he varies his voice between ordinary vocals and his more angry voice.
What does this sound like then? In my opinion I would say like dark/heavy metal influenced by thrash/industrial metal with several variations and tempo changes and there’s some songs that can almost be taken as a ballad.
“CURSE (OF THE CLOTH)” begins with a slow intro by all of the guys before the tempo rises in the first verse. This is fast thrash metal similar to Slayer. Lombardo again shows what a brilliant drummer he is. “THE ANSWER” is a heavy/dark metal that is not as fast as the first track. Chambers sings with ordinary vocals the first verse, until the chorus where he uses his angry vocals. A lot of keyboard is used in this track. “ENDOWMENT OF APATHY” starts off with all of the guys and Mr. Chambers angry voice. The tempo rises along the way into some fast metal. “ENEMY MIND” begins with acoustic guitars and nothing more. The tempo is very slow in the first verse and they have put electric guitar at the top of the mix here. Then the acoustic guitar appears again on and off through the song. This could be taken for an up tempo ballad. “SKIN TRADE” has a slow short intro before the tempo rises and also here there are some similarities to Slayer. The music is fast, brutal, hard and a lot of double bass pedals are used. “(BUILT TO) RESIST” has a string intro before the band starts. This song is pretty slow and is accompanied by strings and keyboards all the way. “THE GIFT” is grinding semi-industrial metal. “PRIVILEGE” again is a song that starts pretty slow before Lombardo kicks off with his drums. Lombardo has a big part of the sound and there are many tempo changes in this song. “BLOOD OF SAINTS” starts of with Sorychta on guitar. The song isn’t so fast but it’s still heavy. The guitar and the vocals take the biggest part in the sound. “MAN WITH NO INSIDES” is fast metal at the beginning before it slows down. There are some whispering vocals and they’ve used some keyboard here as well. This is also close to an up tempo ballad.
Grip Inc has made a strong album on which Lombardo dazzles along with Sorychta. I do have some minor criticisms. The album’s songs feel a bit shattered. They don’t last all the way with parts of the material being a bit weak. This is true with ballad-like songs “ENEMY MIND”, “(BUILT TO) RESIST” and “MAN WITH NO INSIDES” amongst others. It seems that Lombardo wants too much and can’t decide what musical direction he wants to go in. Some of the better songs are “CURSE (OF THE CLOTH)”, “THE ANSWER”, “PROPHECY”, “ENDOWMENT OF APATHY”, and “SKIN TRADE” where it’s brutal, hard, aggressive, and heavy metal.
It feels like Grip Inc. has succeeded halfway with the album. A part of it feels vital and very good and the rest of it feels shattered or directionless.