Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper - Walking In The Shadows review



Reviewer:
6.1

21 users:
7.19
Band: Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper
Album: Walking In The Shadows
Release date: September 2016


01. Wings Of Angels
02. Walking In The Shadows
03. Reach Out
04. I'm Coming For You
05. From Hell
06. Call Me In The Morning
07. Rock Will Never Die
08. Temptation
09. Thunder
10. Now You See Me
11. Blue Murder
12. Come Hell Or High Water


I've had just about enough of these once-great NWOBHM bands wheeling out from the crypt to cast a pall on their own legacies. Bootless, biteless, baseless, and, most importantly, Bowcott-less, vocalist Steve Grimmett's self-titled incarnation of 1980s giant Grim Reaper supposedly brings an old warhorse back from the dead, but the only soul this band is capable of reaping is its own.

Look, as soon as you start writing songs called "Rock Will Never Die," you've already killed it. Walking In The Shadows never does anything offensively wrong, and it's not the worst attempted comeback an old NWOBHM vet has geriatrically carted out, but one listen is all we'll ever need in this lifetime. Full of lukewarm choruses and throwaway riffs that only drive me to listen to the Grim Reaper we once knew, this album offers nothing that hasn't grown old, withered, and died off in the years since the band's heyday.

Steve Grimmett possessed a titanic voice with a savage bite and stratospheric range, but the band was never only about him, something which this project fails to grasp - and there is such a thing as mixing the vocals so high that they eclipse the rest of the music. Grim Reaper functioned as a unit that conjured trend-setting heavy metal through the combination of distinct musicians. With no powerhouse personality to balance out the vocals, the 2016 version of the band serves as a vehicle for Steve Grimmett's voice and nothing more. Steve has preserved his voice remarkably over time, but nothing can change the fact that he has achieved a venerable age and can't climb back up to "See You In Hell" levels of dog-summoning wails. As I'm sure I said in one of my countless Manowar reviews, sounding good for 50-something is not the same as sounding good at 20-something. More aging vocalists need to take lessons from Dio and adapt to suit their changing strengths, rather than pulling an Eric Adams and trying to force the songs of their youth to remain as accessible to their voices (and fresh to their audiences) as they were decades ago.

As I said, however, Steve remains a solid lead vocalist, even if he isn't piercing eardrums the same way he once did; the problem is not the vocals, but the material to which they are applied. Even when Grim Reaper was in its prime, the band found itself rapidly falling out of fashion. The metal scene left this sound behind, this simplistic play-the-riff-and-write-it-later approach paired with off-the-rack drum patterns and vapid "dark" imagery, and that's why Grim Reaper faded into obscurity in the first place; the passage of time has not made the three-chords-and-a-screech formula any better, sexier, or more thrilling than it was at the end of the NWOBHM's brief existence. Aside from the title track and "Thunder," which at least feel like they could have been B-sides to some of the band's old A-material, not one song on this album has any particular strength or outstanding quality. This could be any band - but it isn't any band. It's Grim Reaper, or at least it advertises itself as such.

Walking In The Shadows is just a solid heavy metal album, no more or less - too mired in clichés and old songwriting conventions to sound fresh, too clean and modern to feel like a true old school gem. The days of Fear No Evil and See You In Hell have passed us by, and while those albums remain classics, nostalgia doesn't necessarily mean we need more.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 3
Production: 7


 



Written on 17.03.2017 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 95 users
18.03.2017 - 14:32
Enemy of Reality
I agree with some of your arguments, but i think you're being too harsh on the "rating breakdown". This genre isn't supposed to be "original", it's supposed to be traditional heavy metal. Would you give a 3 to Iron Maiden? It's a trademark sound, and it's supposed to sound dated. Personally when i approach this kind of albums i judge it for the quality/ catchiness of the songs, because i know beforehanded that it won't be a modern sound album. And i'm fine with it because it's exactly what i'm expecting.
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18.03.2017 - 16:39
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Calling Grim Reaper an Eighties gioant is a bit of a stretch. Back in the Eighties they were bever regarded as such. Were always a second to third tier band. Somehow 'See You In Hell' and 'Fear No Evil' started to get a cult following some twenty yeras down the line.

As for originality, yeah, they aren't original and never were, but then again that is to be expected of the music they play. So, I agree on the 3 there. What I, however, cannot fathom, is why you would give just as an unoriginal band such as Sabaton an 8 for originality on their latest. That should be along the lines of this one, I'd say.
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19.03.2017 - 02:55
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Enemy of Reality on 18.03.2017 at 14:32

I agree with some of your arguments, but i think you're being too harsh on the "rating breakdown". This genre isn't supposed to be "original", it's supposed to be traditional heavy metal. Would you give a 3 to Iron Maiden? It's a trademark sound, and it's supposed to sound dated. Personally when i approach this kind of albums i judge it for the quality/ catchiness of the songs, because i know beforehanded that it won't be a modern sound album. And i'm fine with it because it's exactly what i'm expecting.

I don't entirely disagree with you; the band is obviously trying to replicate a certain, very popular sound and they've done so. The sound was, however, original once, and it becomes steadily less original the more it is replicated, so 2016 Grim Reaper necessarily must receive a lower score than 1985 Grim Reaper, which must necessarily receive a lower score than 1976 Judas Priest, etc. Grim Reaper wasn't terribly original when they first arrived, and the intervening decades have drastically decreased how unique their first albums sound, but at the very least, they had the two outstanding factors of Steve Grimmett's voice and Nick Bowcott's guitar to set them apart somewhat. Now, Nick Bowcott is out of the band and Steve's voice has lost some of its flair, so in terms of their sound, they are just another aging traditional metal band, and while that in itself doesn't preclude them from producing good material, the two main things I liked about the band are gone and they have less to distinguish them, so they take a hit in terms of both quality and originality.

A poor originality score isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Sabaton is one of my favorite bands, and once you get past the fact that they have a unique sound that recognizably belongs to them and no one else, they're not terribly original in terms of their songwriting, which is rather cannibalistic. In my review of The Faceless's Autotheism, which I gave a perfect 10, I only gave it a 7 for originality because it was so obviously indebted to other artists, even though it's one of my favorite albums. It is unusual to see a red 3 next to several higher numbers and not be expected to view that as a criticism, and lack of originality can be a huge criticism that I levy often, but it's not necessarily a bad thing, even if it warrants a bad score.

In other words, I could give something a severe originality score and come up with an overall score that was very different, because I do, as you say, tend to judge things based on the quality of the songs. This album simply contains no interesting or worthwhile songs. Grim Reaper saved me the trouble of having to parse out how to judge originality, because they are unoriginal on all fronts: this album is unoriginal compared to the band's older material, it is unoriginal compared to other bands, the songs are all unoriginal, and none of it is especially good.

As for your last point, I was expecting not much more from this album than what I got, but that doesn't really ameliorate the album's standing in my eyes. I don't hate it, I'm just not impressed, and I think this review reflects that, more or less.

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 18.03.2017 at 16:39

Calling Grim Reaper an Eighties gioant is a bit of a stretch. Back in the Eighties they were bever regarded as such. Were always a second to third tier band. Somehow 'See You In Hell' and 'Fear No Evil' started to get a cult following some twenty yeras down the line.

As for originality, yeah, they aren't original and never were, but then again that is to be expected of the music they play. So, I agree on the 3 there. What I, however, cannot fathom, is why you would give just as an unoriginal band such as Sabaton an 8 for originality on their latest. That should be along the lines of this one, I'd say.

"Giant" is a bit generous, I grant you. Not having lived through the 1980s, I know Grim Reaper only as a band that has amassed some recognition in the years since; that was a poor choice of descriptor.

As far as originality goes, I had started my response to Enemy of Reality's comment with Sabaton as a counterexample before you posted your comment, and you also make a valid point. When I handed out an 8 to Sabaton, I was considering the fact that they do have a sound that is recognizably theirs, with a rather unique vocalist, if nothing else, and as somebody who knows their albums fairly by heart, I could detect a world of difference between their previous efforts and The Last Stand, which was, by comparison, quite a new and unusual sort of album for them. When I gave Grim Reaper a 3, I was considering the factors I mentioned above: they never were particularly original, but the things that made them at all original are now gone, along with any inspiration that went into the songwriting. My standards for judging originality were slightly inconsistent, but then, the rating system is quite flaky and doesn't lay out criteria with which we should judge, and in any case an album's originality doesn't often factor into my enjoyment of it.
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19.03.2017 - 13:29
Bad English
Masterchief
In 80's band has 2 hit songs, 2 videos what was more about, I think 80's band value Is huger now as then, from NWOBHM fan boys, as it was then. It was one of million bands, but it somehow did not change but did, this album don't sound as NWOBHM , it has some heaviness. Sad that he lost his leg, might be last album ;(
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