Released: 2011, Willowtip Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Chicago’s minstrels of murder metal have returned after an almost 8 year drought. That’s right folks, Macabre are back with a new album, GRIM SCARY TALES. While the album has been floating around the interwebs for a while, GRIM SCARY TALES is finally getting an official North American release in February via the Willowtip label. If you’re familiar with Macabre’s body of work, you already know what to expect – morbid, technically dizzying hyper metal biographies about serial killers. And while GRIM SCARY TALES retains the core of that foundation, the band has thankfully opted to make some changes to the play book.
Musically, the songs on the album are given some more time to develop. Rather than a rapid fire succession of 1-2 minute blitzes, most of the tunes here are around 3 minutes or longer. It’s a small change, but it makes a big difference in letting the songs sink in. Also, Corporate Death mixes up his vocal delivery a bit as well. You get a lot of his traditional shrieking screeches, but he gives the tracks some variety with a lower register and some pseudo singing. Again, a small difference, but I haven’t been this interested in a Macabre album since SINISTER SLAUGHTER.
Thematically, each Macabre album details the atrocities of various murderers and ne’er –do-wells, but for this go ‘round the band stepped in the way back machine and pulled out a batch of lesser known historical fiends for topical study. Characters like Gilles de Rais, Lizzy Borden, the Bender family, and the emperor Nero are all captured here, and even old Liz Bathory gets a nod with a cover of Venom’s “Countess Bathory.” It’s a nice touch and much more interesting than another retread of Jeffery Dahmer or Albert Fish.
The production on the album feels thicker than on prior releases, and aids the tracks by giving them additional heavier feel. Musically the trio is in fine form, if not a little restrained. The riffs are still deployed with an unparalleled precision and velocity, but the random noodling has been reeled in some. Not that there’s any lack of shred on the album, but the technical synchronicity that the band is capable of is nothing less than awe inspiring, and new fans just discovering Macabre with this disc might not fully appreciate their capability.
Whether you’re a long time Macabre fan or a newbie that’s curious about all the fuss, GRIM SCARY TALES is solid from start to finish. Check this one out for sure.