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Grisly – Salting the Earth

Salting the Earth
by Santiago Puyol at 07 September 2021, 10:55 AM

Swedish Death Metallers GRISLY released their sophomore effort past August 3rd 2021. "Salting The Earth" is the follow-up to their debut "The Spectral Wars". This ten track record is a relentless Death Metal assault, with a couple of twists here and there, all under half an hour.

I’ll start my review by admitting that I had a hard time getting used to the rhythm guitar tone. It is extremely noisy and filtered, feeling like it is coming out of low-quality speakers or an old AM radio. Considering other aspects of the production –although uneven– are audibly clearer, I have no doubt that this is a conscious choice. Albeit, in this reviewer’s opinion, it does not fit well. This issue partially affected my experience with the album, as it felt weird having an extremely lo-fi sounding element put together with cleaner sounds. Having gotten that out of the way, let’s dig deeper into the record.

Opener "By Inferno’s Light" and "Dying Like Dogs In Winter" make for a one-two punch. Both are brutal tracks with gorgeous soloing, quite shreddy but not show-off material precisely, something that fits the oppressive and oppressing nature of the music. They are mostly straightforward Death Metal tracks, with Thrash-based rhythms and pulverizing riffing.

"Mutilator" comes next, riding over a catchy main riff. The track drifts between nasty, purre Death Metal and slightly bluesy, classic Heavy Metal inspired sections. It makes for a change of pace for drummer Nicke Ohlsson, allowing himself to explore a jazzier, more swingy feel behind the kit, instead of Death Metal brutality or punkish simplicity. A few clean-ish spots make for an outstanding track, a highlight from the first half of the record.

The more tradional Death Metal sound returns with "Wickedness That Lurks Within", another track filled with urgency and Thrashy drumming. Having more straightforward, right to the point, songwriting, it recalls the feel and sound of the first two tracks, and fits nicely between the slightly proggish "Mutilator" and the interlude "Skymmingssonanten". The latter is a nostalgic and vaguely sinister piano piece. An utterly beautiful track, that might not be too complex but still carries great depth with it.

"Mexico (Reign Of Bullets)" starts the second half of the record. Another Thrashy track with pulverizing rhythms and riffing, as well as some intricate and playful use of syncopation from the drumming. It is followed by "Last Days In Fear", a song with a slight Black Metal influence, a very punkish feel to Rogga Johansson’s vocal delivery and fast-paced drumming. Its memorable guitar work, with a great main riff on the verses, and shreddy soloing, make it a strong track.

"Salting The Earth" and "Driver" start showing another issue I had with the album, and it is that it feels too repetitive for such a short record. Although Mexico and Last Days In Fear make for a strong second half start, they pretty much follow a similar formula to the first two tracks of the record. The band’s unwillingness to break from this formula becomes even clearer with "Driver" and the title track. Both songs add nothing new to the album.

Closer, and possibly best track on the album, "Souls Last Caress" makes for the biggest gamble on the album, with is beautiful balladesque feel. It adds some acoustic guitar in the mix, as well as electronic beats and spacey synths to great effect. It feels like a completely different band, even indulging in Trip-Hop sounds. The synth strings (or maybe mellotron?) and overall nostalgic feel make it sound closer to PORCUPINE TREE or OPETH. The raspy, not-really-clean singing style that Johansson uses fits perfectly, sitting somewhere between "Dirt"-era Layne Staley and the more gritty moments of Trent Reznor. This song, "Mutilator" and "Skymmingssonanten" are the album’s saving grace.

As I mentioned before, for such a short album it feels weirdly repetitive. The more standard Death Metal tracks feel too similar between them, going for similar rhythm patterns, similar chord progressions and even similar riffing and soloing styles. The band shines when they stray away from convention, either by going completely out of field ("Souls Last Caress") or just injecting a few different sounds to their core sound ("Mutilator").

Overall, "Salting The Earth" is a good record that gets bogged down by not committing to its more experimental impulses. If GRISLY dared to embrace their most ambitious side, they could deliver something even more interesting that what they achieved with Salting The Earth. They have the skills, it is a matter of intention.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 4

3 Star Rating

1. By Inferno’s Light
2. Dying Like Dogs In Winter
3. Mutilator
4. Wickedness That Lurks Within
5. Skymmingssonanten
6. Mexico (Reign Of Bullets)
7. Last Days In Fear
8. Salting The Earth
9. Driver
10. Souls Last Caress
Rogga Johansson – Guitars, Bass & Vocals
Håkan Stuvemark – Lead guitars
Nicke Ohlsson – Drums
Record Label: Xtreem Music


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