Grimmage – Tales From Beyond ALBUM REVIEW

Apparently, according to ever trustworthy, grimmage means something people find grim or disgusting. I had to look that up, because I needed to associate this band with something other than Grimace, the extremely creepy and incredibly purple McDonald’s mascot. Thought I will say if you want to have a band mascot that strikes fear in the heart of any man, that would not be too bad of a choice. Anyway, Tales From Beyond is the debut album of this german Stoner Doom metal band. Debut albums are always one of those things that have massive potential to fail, as the band doesn’t have the experience typically to execute their style well, if they even have fully developed their style by then. The cover also looks massively amateur, and not in the 2kvlt4u intentionally bad way. It looks like they were trying to make something cool, but ended up as nothing more than a weak photoshop job (it’s really just too clean). The question this review tries to answer however is, does the music follow it’s cover?

For starters, the vocals are actually pretty rad. One of the biggest reasons I rate start up bands low is because of how awful the vocals are. It’s one of the easiest things to botch in metal, and one of the hardest things to correct. These guys don’t have to worry about that, they nailed and approach that’s a happy medium between roughness and calm psychedelia. This actually follows the trend of the music in this album as a whole, which combines sections of heavy sludginess with softer sections more akin to the more relaxed side of doom metal. While this is very obviously stoner doom, it does lack a lot of the blues rock influence that the stoner genre is made up of. Not that it isn’t there (otherwise it wouldn’t be stoner doom), but it is certainly not anywhere near the focus of this record. This is much more on the heavy side of stoner doom. Thought that isn’t to say that this completely crushes you with riffs and such. Much of the tracks on this album are made up of one riff repeated throughout the entire number, which could be argued as either meaning it is the focus of the track, or simply the background to it. Personally to me it depends on the piece. Magic Rites, the second track on the album, has one riff very strongly repeated throughout the entire duration, without much break or anything to accompany it. For that I would say it’s the focus on that particular track. However on Hunter, the 3rd song on the album, one riff is still repeated the entire way, but with much more surrounding it, meaning to me that it’s not the focus like it is on Magic Rites. Most of the album follows this scenario, which I think overall is a plus, as Magic Rites is the weakest track on here.

Strangely enough, the strongest two tracks on the album, Black Wings and Calypso (which are the first and last tracks on the album respectively) don’t really employ this repeated riff concept too much. Calypso has the repeated riff, but it’s more in the form of a vocal melody and alternation between two chords rather than a true guitar riff. Speaking of the Calypso melody, despite it being incredibly simple, or perhaps because it was incredibly simple, I found it getting stuck in my head rather easily. It’s really the vocalist that brings it home, making the line sound like an emotional plea with a feeling of longing. Part of that is that it’s the only time in the album the artists speak their (I assume) mother tongue, German, which adds a bit more authenticity to emotions of the vocals. I’ve always thought it sounds more real when the vocalist speaks their native language rather than forcing some unnatural sounding english out of their mouths. The entirely of calypso is really the pinnacle of the album, rounding out an otherwise intense album with a stirring finale. Black Wings however does not actually have the repeated riff, and in fact has quite the opposite as it’s motiff. The track evolves throughout the entirety of it, with a wonderful buildup towards the true beginning of the piece, with awesome poly-rhythimic-like drum beats (the drum section is really stellar on both this track and Hunter), and changes from section to section in a logical way that nicely uses the entire 9 minutes of the song well. I would say that despite Calypso being the emotional peak of the album, Black Wings is actually the best track for those reasons. The only real critique I’d have for this, and this is a persistent seemingly minor problem in the album, is that all the parts of the track tend to slightly overstay their welcome. It feels like every idea lasts just a little bit too long, where you start to get a slightly tired of the current concept right before it changes to a new one. It’s really only by about 10-15 seconds, but it’s just enough so that everything feels a bit off, which adds up to be one of the albums most major problems.

This is especially prevalent in both Magic Rites and Wasteland. As mentioned before, Magic Rites is the worst track on the album, going more for a generic “wow so heavy” sound rather than anything unique. Simply put, it’s dull and boring, and almost seems like it’s just the band showing how heavy they can be rather than anything musical. So in a way, it continues the aforementioned flaw by making the entire track overstay it’s welcome, rather than by just a few seconds. Wasteland on the other hand is a very solid track with a similar awesome intro buildup as Black Wings. However it does come with some issues. For one, as is the topic of this paragraph, the solo at the end of it, while being a nice solo, goes on for way too long. It extends though the entire last 2 and a half minutes of the track, and it really isn’t varied enough to justify this length. It’s mostly just improvising on one chord progression involving 4 chords (well, technically 5, but one of them is only played for a short period of time). And while again it is a nice solo, it’s no where near good enough to close out a track. I usually like solos that focus on melodies rather than showing off skill, but this feels a bit too slow to last that long. A little bit of arpeggio work actually would’ve been nice in this instance. There’s also the problem of completely out of place and extremely loud blast beats in the middle of the track. I can’t think of a single reason why you’d ever put blast beats in a doom metal track. There’s no circumstance in which they would ever sound good or be appropriate.

In the broad scheme of things, the middle 3 tracks are simply not as good as the opening and closing tracks, and that’s what brings this albums score down. Had we had an entire album full of tracks like those two, this would’ve been in the 9 range. As it stands, this was a very tricky record to review because nothing I gave it seemed right. I usually go back and forth between many ratings before my head finally arrives at something that when I say to myself “I give this album a __/10” I feel comfortable with that. Nothing gave me that feel here, so here’s to going by way of the goose and winging it. Overall Tales From Beyond is a solid debut that doesn’t deserve the low score it has on RYM, but this band needs to be more consistent and find it’s sound, as all the tracks on this album feel a bit too different from each other in style, creating less of a cohesive album, which leads to some tracks dominating the others. Also they need a better graphic designer, but I’m sure that’ll be easy to find. You can’t do much worse than “Grimmagc”.


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