Grendel (ITA)
Beowulf


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
May 21st, 2008 | 14 replies | 6,332 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Finally... black metal which is influenced by a story other than The Lord Of The Rings

In metal, it seems that every other band is influenced in some way, shape, or form by The Lord Of The Rings. We have the obvious (Summoning, Blind Guardian) to the discreet (Burzum, Gorgoroth), each band taking something which was described or named in this trilogy and using it toward lyrical or atmospheric value. It works, yes, largely because of the grand scale of The Lord Of The Rings and all that takes place in Middle Earth. It is, for lack of a better description, the most epic fantasy tale ever written. There is so much to cover, so much to convey when one is describing or citing The Lord Of The Rings in their work. This is especially evident in the case of music. However, with so many other excellent works of fiction out there, why haven’t more bands taken in influences them? It may be because of the wide array of fans of The Lord Of The Rings, or it may be lack of creativity, but when a band does go out there and fetch another influence, it can turn out to be fresh, interesting, and lasting.

Grendel is an Italian black metal band which plays music inspired by the epic poem Beowulf. Some may recognize the name by the Hollywood movie, but it was originally based off of one of the earliest known English language stories ever written. The story describes a warrior named Beowulf who sails off to a neighboring kingdom in search of a monster who has plagued the kingdom’s great hall, named Heorot. The monster’s name is Grendel, and until Beowulf came, no warrior could find a way to defeat him. This is where Grendel (the band) pick up their first full length album, the aptly titled Beowulf. The album is very dark, but at the same time insanely epic, like any musical piece based on a fantasy story with battles, magic, and the like.

If you have read the book, then the lyrics and the flow of the album directly correlate with events in the novel. We have Beowulf and Grendel battling, Grendel’s mother slaughtering people in their sleep, and Beowulf seeking revenge. The way the story is told, however, is through a mix of melodic black metal and folk black metal. The intro and outro tracks both feature a mix of folk instruments, and many of the songs contain some really catchy riffing along with beautiful solos. The black metal influences are still highly noticeable, with lots of blast beats, distorted, fast, and simplistic guitar riffs during most of the verses and the traditional vocal arrangement. The heavier tracks, such as “The Mother Of The Orc” and “Middle Age” show this style in its glory, and that alone is decent enough to be passable as a black metal album alone. However, the elements which propel this album from a 2.5 or a 3 to a solid 4 is the instrumentation during the parts where things become harmonized. Some of the riffing is harmonized to give that added effect of melody and uplifting spirit to many of the songs. We have songs like “Of Blood And Glory” which shows these riffing techniques alongside the heaviness which some black metal fans desire, with fast riffs coupled by rolling drum beats which pummel you again and again. On the other side we have the main riff, which is melodic and sometimes harmonized, and the bridge which is solely acoustic guitar before transcending to the insane guitar solo, which is backed by vocals.

It’s this use of guitar solos which I think makes this album truly different. The solos are well produced, placed at exactly the right time, and are epic as hell. The perfect example is in the standout track “Beowulf”, in which the bridge begins with soft acoustic guitar and raspy, growled vocals, before the solo works in with some really intense harmonies and sections which will just make you stop and listen, quite literally breathtaking. It pairs so well with the black metal and is so well executed it just sound natural that the music decides to go in this direction. The vocals, too, make this album different, because they aren’t just your garden-variety black metal screeches alone. There are slow, raspy grunts which often appear during the bridge and the end of songs, the raspy growling which is nearly always present in the verses and chorus, and the odd chanting. The chanting I’m not so sure about, and could have gone without, but it works and ties in with the whole epic poem deal.

The album is sandwiched in between the blandly titled songs “Intro” and “Outro”, which serve as placeholders and transitions to make the album not too awkward at the beginning and not too abrupt at the end. However, the real beauty lies in the middle six tracks, and how they tell the story of Beowulf and his battle against Grendel through music. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to do it, the whole concept of a black metal album to represent this amazing story is the perfect way to sum it all up. Not just any old black metal album either, this is a black metal album laden with melody, soloing, insane drumming, awesome vocals, and an atmosphere to rival any of those Lord Of The Rings influenced albums. This album was limited to 500 copies, so if you can get your hands on a hard copy, it will be well worth it. For the rest of us, the internet is the only way to experience this unique, original take on storytelling through music.



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user ratings (5)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
BallsToTheWall
May 21st 2008



44164 Comments


Amon Amarth continuing the LOTR trend. Beowulf is an excellent book and 2 of the 3 movies made are pretty cool, not counting the most recent one. Solid review, and plan on checking this out in future time.

Odal
May 21st 2008



334 Comments


NEEDS MOAR CG ANGELINA JOLIE!

Good review, I will check this out.

SCREAM!
May 21st 2008



9621 Comments


Imma have to check this out. Good review

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2008



16028 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys. The new Beowulf movie kinda sucked, with the exception of Angelina Jolie.

Digging: Katatonia - Kocytean

Ouch
May 21st 2008



546 Comments


ya, I might want to check this album out. Good Review and such.

Slaytan
May 22nd 2008



1186 Comments


Good review. I'd say I'll check this out, but I'll forget.

Windows
September 11th 2008



76 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really interested in hearing this, but haven't had any luck finding it anywhere yet. Nice review.

willfellmarsy
September 11th 2008



3844 Comments


I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS,I NEED THIS, BEOWULF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

McP3000
September 12th 2008



3941 Comments


lol i hated beowulf

bustyagunz
September 12th 2008



911 Comments


i really hope you don't mean the book.......
the grendel novel written in 1970 or whenever was ridiculously good as well

marksellsuswallets
September 12th 2008



4848 Comments


The book was great...
The horridly reader friendly version in the 10th grade lit book that was all of 15 pages...yeah...not so much...
Movie was pretty bad as well...

Acanthus
September 19th 2011



9511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This still looks great, can't believe I didn't pos'/comment way back when.

Digging: Ayria - Hearts for Bullets

Asmodeuss1990
July 13th 2013



121 Comments


I have no idea where I can find this...

Digging: Inferi - The Path of Apotheosis

Acanthus
February 23rd 2014



9511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Where in the world did this review disappear to, the Grendel link is broken : /

Edit: Thanks for the quick band page moving around mods!



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