Review Summary: The vocals are annoying, but this is an otherwise decent grind album with an amazing lyrical concept...
Glasgow Grin – Saints of the Greatest Sin
The press release for this new album opens with: “If you’ve ever lived somewhere for any substantial period of time you’ll become aware of those certain houses that eerily haunt the streets that they’re built on. The houses isolated at the end of the road, half falling down, their white siding stained yellow by the acidic rain and unrelenting neglect. A malignancy on the quiet neighbourhoods that harbour them and accompanied by all their precautions and due diligence so as to not disturb what evil acts could be in progress inside their walls.
Guelph quintet Glasgow Grin is of a similar nature
Press statements are known to be a load of exaggeration in many cases, often hyping and bringing up the pretences (nothing new to be found here, labels need to sell), but these guys from Year of the Sun have probably manufactured the pretentious statement of the year. Fortunately, they have something to back that up
. That is that this album is a concept album about a religious serial killer who goes on a killing spree fuelled by his faith in the Almighty One above. Thankfully, even though this is a grindcore band by rights, they have decided to actually make the story sophisticated and readable and added them to the promo cd; this is actually a pretty good horror movie story, would someone take up a camera and film it. They also don’t proselytise against God using this; it’s an impressive neutral take on a serial killer story and to come up with this idea as a concept album for a grind record has to be applauded (it’s better than the mindless gore we’re used to here.)
But hey, we’re getting lost, and this is about Glasgow Grin (incidentally referring to the practice of cutting a victim’s face from the mouth to the ears in the manner of a smile, much like the Joker character now so famous in The Dark Knight), and the annoying thing about grind is; even with the awesome lyrics, the vocalist is completely indecipherable. He has two modes: a sort of frog croak, and another where he goes like GROOO GROO GROOO in a low voice. There is no trace of the lyrics or enunciation to be found here; does this guy sing like he actually got a Glasgow smile? I don’t know, but he’s definitely sounding like it. I appreciate the effort to stay with the theme, guys, but honestly you could sound a lot better if you ditched this vocal style and sounded somewhat… decipherable. I know the album is all about the package, but many people don’t care about that these days and the vocals are just going to piss people off.
That being said, the music, however, is pretty awesome. It suffers from some grind monotony, but these riffs are pretty powerful and distorted enough to keep the energy of the band going. The band is also interested in taking some melodies and switching tempos on occasion (and by melodies, I don’t mean In Flames harmony leads or anything like that), giving the album its much-needed groove and accessibility apart from the vocals. Think the way Converge uses their riffs and melodies; it’s similar to that, and it also bears similarity to the early outings of, for example, The Dillinger Escape Plan (minus the math metal freak outs).
The band sounds intense and energetic; the production is beefed up enough to make this shine through. It’s still got a very raw sound to it, but everything is clearly audible (except some of the bass gets lost) and equalised giving the album’s chug riffs just that extra amount of oomph. Another bonus is that it’s only 38 minutes or so of intensity, which means that you thankfully don’t need to have a huge attention span for the music (it’s still a bit too long to tolerate these vocals though).
So what do these guys need to do? Improve the vocals would be a good thing. I’m not big grindcore fan but I can easily tolerate the music on offer here, and the lyrics are interesting to say the least, but making them comprehensible would really add to the overall feel I think (maybe not clean singing, but just some enunciation). Because what they’re doing right now is pretty unsettling (in a good way), but I don’t think until they hone this project, the press release will be right in saying: “there’s something much more sinister going on inside.