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Frank Gradeen - Shocker

Frank Gradeen
by Chris Hicklin at 06 June 2022, 4:02 PM

FRANK GRADEEN is a Swedish musician and bodybuilder who, judging by his epically cheesy promo photo, divides his time equally between the two. As of 2022 he is just 21 years of age, and “Shocker” is his third attempt at a full-length album. The LP is entirely self-recorded, self-released and Frank has performed most of the instruments himself as well, although information on any other potential contributors is non-existent. He describes himself as influenced by JUDAS PRIEST, VENOM and SAXON, and while he might not be reaching the heights of composition some of those bands have achieved, the influence can certainly be heard throughout.

The album kicks off with a little Horror movie introduction before launching into “Dracula Will Strike Tonight”. The opening riff is quite serviceable, tight, and creative. And then the vocals. What to say, Gradeen is putting on a Dracula voice and singing in a humorous style. It’s different, that’s for sure, does it work? Well, it works in a sort of Novelty Record way, but it is clearly not meant to be taken too seriously. “Silver Bullet” continues the horror movie theme, only this time Gradeen’s performance is twofold as he is playing two characters, presumably the human and the Werewolf counterpart as one voice sounds like an accountant and the other like Lemmy, a very gravelly, roaring delivery. The riff is a chugging Traditional Metal affair, and he manages a very uncontrolled, but not incompetent guitar solo. The song also features some clever instrumental sections which work well and demonstrate an undisciplined but definite talent.

Lose Your Head” comes off as a punkier affair, which works well in the wild style that the album displays. Again, the vocal this time is quite reminiscent of Lemmy, I am guessing this track is about the film Highlander, based on the lyrics referencing losing a game if you lose your head and the whole song having a very 80s feel to it. It also features a typically wayward bass and guitar solo. “I Turned into A Ghost Tonight” is a bizarre Celtic Waltz with a keys solo that sounds like it was played on a Bontempi Organ. That’s all I am going to say about that.

Here Comes the Pain / Marching with The Dead” is a slightly plodding and rather long attempt at a Heavy Metal epic, it has extended instrumentals with some occasional clever guitar work, some nice keyboard strings and a very heavy, fast double bass drum section, which has tuneless half spoken half sung lyrics playing out over the top. It isn’t a complete disaster but some of the vocal choices are frustrating and ultimately wreck the song. So, onto “Kraken (The Terror of The Sea),” a nine-minute opus which comes off as though IRON MAIDEN ran into JOY DIVISION at the studio. Musically very interesting, but again let down by the strange decisions made regarding the vocals.

Finally, “Choir of The Damned” brings this confusing, sometimes hilarious but always earnest journey to an end. It opens with some choral work that sounds good, and then a nice clean and atmospheric bass riff, played with some bass chords and harmonics which is unusual but effective. It’s a good three and a half minutes before the song begins proper, and the riff is groovy and chunky with a Tom Morello guitar tone, the drums are pounding and the song is bolting along before it suddenly grinds to a halt for another darkly odd choral section, and then explodes back into life. Gradeen plays bonkers guitar solos which are shredding nonstop around the neck at absurd speeds and a lot of the rest of the song feels like the bit at the end of a rock concert when everybody is just smashing their instruments, and breaking strings. It ends on a very murky and dark note, which feels a bit abrupt.

Gradeen has two main ways of singing, a sort of talk-sung style which sounds like it comes from the epiglottis, and a much more powerful voice which holds a tune well when he puts some effort into the delivery. The material works much better when he uses the second voice. The production is entirely bedroom level, but for someone doing this themselves and pretty much alone, it would be unfair to criticise this too heavily. It’s one of the best bedroom productions I have heard, certainly better than any of my own attempts but I can’t rate it too highly because compared to a professional production, it’s still crap. His song writing needs some tidying up, as I have said earlier there is a distinct lack of discipline, but there is certainly potential here.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Dracula Will Strike Tonight
2. Silver Bullet
3. Lose Your Head
4. I Turned into A Ghost Tonight
5. Here Comes the Pain / Marching with The Dead
6. Kraken (The Terror of The Sea)
7. Choir of The Damned
Frank Gradeen - Rhythm and Lead Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards
Record Label: Independent


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