GRENDEL — Beowulf (review)

GRENDEL — Beowulf album cover Album · 2005 · Viking Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
GRENDEL was the mythical beast and one of three antagonists in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf and has also been a very well-used band name that has been used by a melodic death metal band from Finland, a Dutch aggrotech act, a Spanish power metal band and a Polish neo-prog group however this GRENDEL is a black / viking metal act from the extreme northern city of Sondrio, Italy which is situated in the Alps next to the Swiss border.

Formed in 2005, this band has released four full-length albums with this debut BEOWULF emerging in 2007. The band was founded by Mordred (vocals) and Chainerdog aka Klingsor (guitar, bass, backing vocals) and then split up in 2008 after this debut but reformed in 2009 without Mordrid. This album features eight tracks at 38 minutes of playing time. The lineup is the trio of Chainerdog, Mordred and drummer Loathing. The album was limited to 500 copies on the Narok Records label.

BEOWULF is a mix of second wave black metal with viking and folk influences. The black metal features the typical tremolo picking, heavy distortion and muddy rawness of early 90s black metal acts as well as blastbeats and breakdowns. Also on board are the raspy vocals and the rather Darkthrone inspired compositional styles that are all too common.

What makes GRENDEL a bit different from other black metal acts is that it includes segments of viking metal with folk influences and clean earnest vocals reciting Pagan ritual stuff obviously lifted from the subject matter of the album title. It’s a rather nice mix of black and viking metal influences with neither really dominating but given the emphasis on the subject matter i tend to see this more as viking metal with black metal influences rather than the other way around.

While not excelling to the top ranks of black or viking metal albums, GRENDEL has crafted an interesting mix of the two styles with a nice raw yet excellent production that allows the black metal elements to sound authentic yet raw while allowing the less brutal moments to sound rich and full. The epic Pagan ritual styles segments can sound a bit like Enslaved at similar moments and although these styles of metal have been done to death, GRENDEL nevertheless executes them quite well despite not exactly finding its own distinct sound.

While all is performed well, something about BEOWULF evokes a more epic approach than delivered as GRENDEL simply relies on trading off between black metal and viking metal to get its points across. It would’ve been more satisfying if the compositions were a bit more thought out and various other nuances were explored but as a debut album, this is certainly a worthy black / viking metal listening experience once you exhaust the usual suspects that provided the inspiration behind these black, folk and viking moments. Nice intro and outro for sure.
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