Sunday, February 2, 2014

Grom - Reign of Plague (Царство Чумы)

Grom, from Estonia, make some primitive, mid-paced black metal that stylistically feels like it could be from the early 90s. The riffing sounds pretty strongly derived from early death metal - not quite into the ringing tremolo frenzy of second wave bands, rather some primitive techniques that make use of the distortion well like tremolo on one string, some ringing chords, and nice melodic fragments that are worked into riffs. The vocals are controlled rasps, and there are some mood-setting clean vocals too, a male voice that drones and has a similar vibe to what 80s films might use as a spooky Transylvanian tone. Grom set the mood well, like an old school metal band trying to sound dark and evil - strongest asset is their ability to create this sound, though their weakness is the inability to create a feel to match it.

A drum machine is used, and fortunately it's not ticking away on blast beats. There are some uncommon patterns as it isn't entirely programmed like a human drummer, and the mid-paced beats work well and contrast with some fast sections. The drum machine is part of the overall restrained feel of the band, which is the weakness here - the band doesn't have the sheer energy and force that made bands like Profanatica and Bestial Summoning so incredible. It completely lacks that uncontrolled, bestial element that made this sort of primitive black metal so vicious. The rhythmic center of the band literally feels like a metronome and it holds them back. In the end, Grom's approach feels too mechanical and that deficiency ends up matching the music.

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