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The Grim – Sanctified

The Grim
by Anton Sanatov at 05 March 2016, 10:38 PM

When a band sets upon the makings of a new record, there is typically a mission statement involved; an outline what the collective is trying to achieve with their offering - be it an allegorical expression of contemporary society or 70 minutes of pure old-fashioned wankery. And yes, it is always applaudable when a band attempts to push the boundaries and create something interesting and atypical, a piece of work that transcends the norms. However, that is never a simple undertaking, and if a common sense of direction is not properly defined the finished product is bound to be a clusterfuck. And although the premise of the cinematic symphonic/industrial direction that THE GRIM undertake on “Sanctified” is enticing, the execution, I'm afraid to say, is at times very questionable.

An album should be a cohesive work of art, much like a novel or a theatre production, where the action and the underlying thematic correlate to create a presentation that encapsulates the two.  "Sanctified" is without question a record of epic intent; having the aesthetic ambition of 'The Phantom of the Opera' with the fiendish grit of Trent Reznor on a bad day. The production is certainly to be commended; it sounds phenomenal and the orchestral instrumentation along with the eerie vocal arias - along with a few obligatory demonic growls - succeed in transporting you from wherever you may be to a velvet chair at some God-forsaken, underworld matinee. Each piece - for I do not think that it is appropriate to categorise these tracks as 'songs' - is a scene, a grand performance with plenty of exciting moments. That being said, the theatrical compositions would be better suited for an actual live production, and are not being done justice confined within a record. The production, in all its grandiosity and zeal is at times highly erratic and the arbitrary collage of genres often fails to stick together, making this selective blend out to be chaotic and interruptive of both musical directions.

The main reason why this otherwise absorbing record has drawn such a mixed response from me lies in its inconsistency. The second half of the record comes off as much more structured and enjoyable than the first and sees the band lean toward their industrial roots, which proves to be their comfort zone. This doesn't suggest that their symphonic side is in any way inadequate, the gothic ballad "Saffire" and the spellbinding closer "Endgame" prove that composer Carl Lofvenhamn is a fine arranger, yet the music truly finds it's centre in the more straightforward 'metal' tracks "In My Dreams" and "The Sanctuary", as well as the solid rendition of NINE INCH NAILS"Sin". There are moments when the amalgamation of styles appears to find its balance - "Like a Vampire" being a prime example of this - yet most of the attempts at fusion end up disorganised and out of place.

I really wanted to like this record, and on some level a part of me does, but in order for this type of musical enterprise to be successful, it has to be able to merge the two sides together. And although "Sanctified" would make for an entertaining double album or a film score, and would probably prove to be an orgasmic venture for the gothically inclined, it is still missing a sense of sensible direction that is essential for a solid progressive record.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 8
Memorability: 5
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Down the Drain
2. Autumn Lovers
3. Purgatorial March
4. Sin (Nine Inch Nails)
5. Saffire
6. Black Requiem
7. Like a Vampire
8. The Sanctuary
9. In My Dreams
10. End Game
Carl Lofvenhamn – Composer/Vocalist
Maria Storck – Diva/Vocalist
Record Label: Dead End Exit Records


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