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Album Review: Grim Reaper – “Walking in the Shadows

Album Review: Grim Reaper – “Walking in the Shadows”

Having a Grim Reaper album drop through my virtual letter box is a bit like bumping into an old mate that you haven’t seen for years. Sure we know each other and were great friends once, the relationship is still there, but what the hell have you been up to! This album sounds so ‘true’ to the original NWOBHM that I could guess that they have been in hibernation, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting public.

Bit of a history lesson here before we get started. Grim Reaper started in 1979 and released their first album, ‘See you in Hell’, in 1984. I remember hearing it around that time as a kid and it was an album amongst Saxon, Priest, Maiden and so on. There was something about it that made you come back to it even amongst such exalted company. This was followed by, ‘Fear No Evil’ which was a great album as well. By the time the third album came along in 1987 the NWOBHM was on the wane. Guns ‘n’ Roses had just hit the UK shores and we were a few months away from, ‘And Justice for All’. Times were a changing. Those of us in denim and leather were scattered amongst the new multitude of rock and metal combinations and Grim Reaper fell off the radar, though remained busy in the industry.

A few years ago I see them bounce back at a couple of festivals and now, almost thirty years after, ‘Rock you to Hell’, we have the new album. I consider this their best as ‘Walking in the Shadows’ is a blast from the past and a sound that takes me back to a time when Metal was everywhere. Just to digress, this is a time when you would be watching UK children’s breakfast TV on a Saturday morning and Ian Gillan would be on with Janick Gers on guitar just giving it a bit of welly. So, of course, it’s easy to say that I’m nostalgic. I’ll also have the devotees ask me if I really think that it’s Grim Reaper with the multiple changes in personnel. Well, listen to it. It’s the real deal. So I appreciate the history and where this band has come from but they need a fair go.

I am encouraging you to find this album and play it from beginning to end. It is metal, melodic metal. It’s some Saxon and a lot of Priest from the, ‘Sad Wings’ period but it is all Grim Reaper. The opening track, ‘Wings of Angels’, teleports us back to the early 80s and it’s a face melter of a track. Remember the days of opening riff, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge….sooollllloooooo? Then welcome home. It’s cheesy in a beautiful way. Take any band from the period and I’ll give you a nuance that I can here in that track. Again, it’s all Grim Reaper.

Skipping the digital needle forward and track five from this twelve track album we have, ’From Hell’. I’m sure that this was being played live in 2013/14. Grimmett sounds like Byford from the ‘The Eagle’ album including the little warble when squeezing out the long notes. The band is tight and the formula of sing along choruses and mind-bending solos is one that you just can’t argue with.

Track eight is, ’Temptation’ and it’s a gone in a flash metal anthem in the making. Just when you think that it get be ratcheted up any more we carve out another notch and drive into, ‘Blue Murder’, which is a double kick classic track. Somehow Grimmett manages to take the vocal up to a new level, infact the whole band rises, and this is the stand out track of the album. It’s simply the way it should be done with belief, passion and top performances.

I’ve always viewed Grim Reaper as much as I have viewed Diamond Head, so much promise then a variety of elements working against them, but at their core a sound that defines a point in time; recognisable and independent. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this album and encourage you all to go out and get the first three albums, which have been constantly re-released given their popularity, and never left the music shelves. You know you need metal in your life. Rock ON!

Review – Craig Grant

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