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Grima - Rotten Garden

Grima
Rotten Garden
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 01 February 2021, 1:43 AM

I reviewed Russian black metal band GRIMA's previous album "Will of the Primordia," and found it to be a refreshing take on the atmospheric black metal genre, mostly do to their use of the accordion. Unfortunately, the instrument takes a major step back on this album as it only appears a couple of different times. With that being said, the band makes up for this with more focus on keys/synths. Don't misunderstand that. There are still plenty of whiplash inducing black metal riffs. But the synergy between the blackened aspects and the keys is very well done and focused.

The production sounds less polished than the previous album. The increased focus in keys and synths would work very well with slightly more polish however I'll be honest and say this more raw approach to the album's sound does wonders for the band and works in their favor. The vocals are especially boosted, the mix of the album grabbing these blackened screams, yells, shrieks and growls to the front for an intense show. The guitars can easily be picked out from the songs but they also work as one with the keys/synths—the album is at its best when the two instruments seemingly blend together cohesively.

I did find it hard to pick out the bass from everything that is going on in the songs and at times the drums came off a little muffled. "Cedar and Owls," opens the album with a fast paced tempo. The subtle keys add an extra dimension to the wall of sound that is created by the guitars. I like how organic the instruments, and their places in the songs, sound. The counter melody/guitar solo around the two minute mark appears out of the blackness so smoothly. The keys pepper the song with their magic. Their presence isnt there to steal the show or take focus away—they truly work to make the songs better by being an integral part of this black metal machine.

The middle part of the song transforms into an ambient passage with sparse, clean guitar notes, warm blanket of synths and bird calls (which I could do without). It is a soft and beautiful moment and it just feels so important to the song. The final moments consist of a moving guitar solo, hammering double bass and swirling riffs.

The accordion makes a strong comeback with the third track, "At The Foot of the Red Mountains." Rather than blend in with the furious black metal, it gets its own shining spot away from the guitars and vocals before being sucked back into the madness. It shows the diversity of both the instrument and the band.  The lead guitar also gets its time to shine and I can't discount the riffs either. The later half of the song echoes the first part in that it is blinding speed but this time we get the accordion and lower end growls to accompany it.

The title track is the album's centerpiece and it is magnificent. At over ten minutes in length, the song is an epic dirge of black metal melding with the wild abandon of nature's fire and fury. The song starts with somber clean guitar that builds up into the crackle of electric guitars. From here the tension continues to build with a slower temple and tortured vocals paving the way.  A deep growl around 3:17 signals the song into beastly territory, the drums coming down like a torrential rain.  The accordion shows up once more and leads the hectic music into calmer waters for a heavily atmospheric second half. The blackened musical monstrosity returns afterwards to finish the song off as it ends in morbid, theatrical keyboards.

With "Rotten Garden" GRIMA have once again breathed new life into atmospheric black metal; this album is just as good as “Will Of The Primordial,” if not better.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Cedar and Owls
2. Mourning Comes At Sunset
3. At The Foot To The Red Mountains
4. Old Oak
5. Rotten Garden
6. Grom
7. Devotion To Lord 2020
Lineup:
Morbius - Guitars, Bass
Vilhelm - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Record Label: Naturmacht Productions
     


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Edited 26 June 2022
 

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