Remember that one cartoon you watched when you were a kid hat gave you the creeps despite the thrills being of the cheap 80’s variety? Ever wonder what it’d be like if that feeling was distilled into music? Let’s get creeped out, you’re in for a treat (pun so intended.)
Gloomy Grim is a band borne from vocalist Agathon’s one-man-band project that currently has a full line-up. Hailing from a shrine of metal, Finland, they play a music that is unique to them. It is a very cinematic, very creepy “80’s cartoon that scared you as a kid” take on black metal with orchestral inclinations (i.e. lots of keyboards.) Fuck the World, War is War! is a compilation, bringing together the band’s 1996 and 1997 work in one neat package. The resulting mix is actually a very interesting, very unique mix that is built on the idea that all this should be entertaining. Less navel-gazing, more smiles. To that end, just check out the tracklist: the “outro” is in the middle of the album, and that’s how much Gloomy Grim cares about conventions.
Far as the music goes, the guitar work, the vocals, the bass, the drums are all bone-dry, with no frills whatsoever. These elements and the metal portion of the music almost plays second fiddle to the orchestral (i.e. lots of keyboards) renditions that paint the landscape in hues of muddy purples and dead blues; hues of creepy things (i.e. lots of bells and whistles and pianos and pseudo-violin ensembles… lots of keyboards.) What keeps the band from crossing over into the realms of pure humor is an undercurrent of seriousness, a real horror lurking beneath the cheesy, cartoonish exterior. It’s not in the typical black metal fanfare lyricism (i.e. lots of anti-Christianity – Armageddon ist hier!) but rather the overall feel of it. Pope of the Black Arts is a clear example of this.
That is not to say that the songwriting is sub-par or the metal chops are missing. Far from it. Just check out War / Ashes, which manages to last its length without anything going into excess, a rollercoaster ride of cheap thrills and carnival chills. Thing is, the black metal comes to the fore on this one, but it still retains the fun element. This is also illustrated in the next track, Blood, that balances a sense of vicious darkness with brighter pastures. The closer, Reign and the excellent Asylum (which is the only instance of a solo on this thing) also show off some impressive songwriting that you wouldn’t expect from an album titled Fuck the World, War is War!
That’s just the thing with Gloomy Grim: the compilation, an album on its own right, is hugely, and I mean vastly entertaining. They eschew the typical black meta fare of tremolo picking and blast beats in favor of something punchier and briefer. They avoid lengthy soundscapes and get down to the meat, strip it off the bones and eat it with a side of Pumpkin juice. The blasphemy isn’t overt and isn’t the point, but the mood is. The dry instrumentation builds a palpable feeling throughout, and the keyboards (i.e. lots of them) add a further layer of depth, and even with the mood-breaks in Blood (the damn thing starts like it’s going to be about the power of friendship before turning the whole mood on its head) Fuck the World, War is War! flows seamlessly, as do the songs in themselves.
Finally, there is the production. I don’t know how they have balanced the lo-fi, DIY with crisp and clear mix that blends everything together magnificently, in ways that some bands would kill for. Yes, there is the occasional muddiness, and there are some small audio problems in some songs, but otherwise, the balance of the mix is the type that not only shows off the music in a good way, it actually adds to the overall feel of the album. That is rare, as production often breaks albums, but doesn’t make them as often as I would like, and Gloomy Grim certainly pull it off very nicely.
But after all is said and done, the entertainment value alone puts Fuck the World, War is War! a cut above the rest. The band’s unique approach, the material’s inclinations and the overall result is very, very good. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for something shaped like itself.
Agathon – Vocals
Lord Heikkinen – Guitar
Micko Hell – Guitar
Nukklear Tormentorr – Bass
Suntio – Drums
01. Temple of Agathon
02. Written in Blood
03. Pope of the Dark Arts
06. War / Ashes