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Gloomy Grim - Agathonomicon

Gloomy Grim
by Andrew Harvey at 23 June 2021, 8:57 PM

GLOOMY GRIM are a symphonic black metal quintet from Helsinki, Finland and they are no strangers to the metal scene in Finland. Their back catalog goes back to the mid 1990’s beginning with their debut album, BLOOD, MONSTERS, DARKNESS in 1998 and their second album LIFE? in 2000. Their other albums included WRITTEN IN BLOOD (2001), THE GRAND HAMMERING (2004) and two more albums in 2008 & 2016.

They are now back with another album five years after their last release in 2016, their new album is titled AGATHONOMICON making this their seventh album to date released through the record label, Satanath Records. The sound of GLOOMY GRIM can be summed up as “a melting pot of 90’s black metal, horror metal with keyboards, a splash of death metal and heavy/speed metal”.

Their album begins with clanging of bells and satanic vocals although the bell sounds are coming from a keyboard in the first song namely, “The Invitation”. Then this progresses into an implosion of guitar, bass and drums in the following track “The Hermit”. I also thoroughly enjoyed the transition where the time signature changes to what sounds like 6/8 or 12/8 timing which is notated in groups of triplets. But other sections of the track are in common time or 4/4 maybe even 2/2 with the more progressive excerpts. “Master Inside” keeps the continuity of furious blast beats from drums and guitar.

The death element comes from the vocals but this is complimented by the pitch shifts of guitar. “Third Eye Opening” takes a step back with it’s tempo, more settled down. The sound is more ominous and the clarity of each instrument is well balanced especially the drums and guitar. “They Are Waiting” stands out more for the inclusion of gang vocals and the emphasis on the lyrical content where the words spoken say ‘legions of the guard’.

“Conjunction To The Ground” seems to bring out the band’s trademark of pulsating drums with angelic voices and admirable guitar work. All of this is heard towards the end of this before going onto the next track “To The Death I Have Sworn” combining heavy metal guitar riffs with hardcore drums and vocals that cut through the mix. This track is short and sweet going into the next track which is “Purity, Beauty, Freedom” which features gang vocals once more. The fast drum intro to the raging guitar parts are brought together to portray themes of anti-christianity, war and horrifying symbols of death that are very sinister indeed.

A more scary start with keyboard for the following track, “Blood, Monsters, Darkness” which is also the title of their debut album, this track consists of dynamic, stylistic guitar effects and ends again with that haunting echo of keyboard. “Haunting, Hunting, Howling” rages on with groundbreaking guitar with the separation of two guitar lines. The impending doom of sustained guitar is prolonged to fill the audio spectrum. What is unexpected is the 8 minute silence before a wall of sound returns at the 14 minute mark before the album is coming to an end. The finale of this 18 minute track is crashing with low end guitar, wicked vocals and thumping drums.

Overall this album I feel doesn’t feel the same in comparison to the band’s previous material, what I can say is that if we take each instrument by itself, the energy and commitment is good except the vocals become very monotonous. The drums offer a variety of dynamics with the transitions and quicker parts especially the time signature change in the track, “The Hermit”. Perhaps the band’s next release will be more closer to the band’s roots and then we might expect greater things but this album has its highs and lows for sure.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

Overall: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Invitation
2. The Hermit
3. Master Inside
4. Third Eye Opening
5. They Are Waiting
6. Conjunction To The Ground
7. To The Death I Have Sworn
8. Purity, Beauty, Freedom
9. Blood, Monsters, Darkness
10. Haunting, Hunting, Howling
Juha Hintikka - Vocals and Keyboards
Mikko Huvinen - Guitars
Tomi Tornqvist - Bass Guitar
AstroNuclear Agitator - Drums
Record Label: Satanath Records


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Edited 23 March 2023

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