A big hit for a previously less well-known band can sometimes be a blessing, or a curse. Grendel are one of those bands that have had this happen, with the dancefloor monster of Soilbleed eclipsing all their previous output to the point that unless you knew of the band before it, it is difficult to think of any other songs of theirs.
So some time after the release of that song – nearly two years since it first appeared, in fact – we have a new album to peruse, and perhaps some different songs to hear on the dancefloor, and with the massively increased profile, there are rather more eyes on it too to see how it does. The first thing is to feel perhaps a little short changed. Ignoring the second (limited) remix CD, there are ten tracks, two of which are Intro and Outro, and the remainder doesn’t stretch much beyond a paltry thirty-five minutes.
Opener proper Harsh Generation is a thumping, uptempo track, with big sweeps of synths, and a massive chorus. But the feeling is, you’ve heard it before. Things get better with Void Malign, to the same pattern but to much more satisfying effect (a cracking chorus, vocals you can actually make out for once…). The Judged Ones again falls into the trap of using past tricks – this time prominent film samples, and otherwise sounds much like the previous tracks. Remnants, while again being based around pretty much the same beat as the previous three tracks, actually offers something different in use of a violinist.
A much-needed change in tempo and approach finally appears with B.A.A.L. (Deliver Me), which is slower, has acoustic guitars in it, but keeps the stabbing synths that obliterate everything else to really quite irritating effect. Dirty irritates also, but in a different way – the female ‘vocals’ keep telling you how much she ‘likes it dirty’. Well, thanks for that. I’m sure we’ve been here with Combichrist more than once before…
Hate This is, I think, destined to be the big hit from this album, with a sample-based intro (the samples here from Videodrome, if I’m not mistaken), before the songs monster beat and synths kick in, and then a sample-based chorus, too. All very obvious, very well-executed, and it will be lapped up by industrial dancefloors without a murmur. Last track-proper is yet another track following the same blueprint as before – New Flesh. Which makes it all the more frustrating that the Outro is actually really quite interesting – a string-based sweep that wouldn’t be half-bad as a full track.
Overall, this album is not bad. However it feels so one-dimensional, and so clearly hamstrung by a desire to continue the momentum gained by Soilbleed, that as an album to listen to it rapidly becomes quite dull and few tracks actually make their presence felt. Taking individual tracks onto the dancefloor, though, should be fun. But that isn’t enough to make a whole album.