The Grotesquery is one of what I call ‘secret bands’. Only one of my buddies (Trud) has heard of them and we both love their last two albums. It’s odd that the band aren’t more well-known seeing as they feature the awesome vocal talents of Kam Lee (Massacre / Death / Denial Fiend & the well underrated Bone Gnawer) and the mighty death metal riff machine that is Rogga Johansson (Rib Spreader / Bone Gnawer & just about every band in the universe).
Their death metal take on the ‘horror concept album’ might make you think they’re gonna sound a bit ‘Lidl Diamond’ (or ‘King Aldi ‘ if you prefer) but NO! These fellas have produced what is now a trilogy of Lovecraftian themed albums – The ‘Coffin Born’ trilogy and here in ‘Curse Of The Skinless Bride’ we have the finale and, to these ears at least, their finest record to date.
So what’s the concept about? Well I’m not going to spoil it but suffice to say if you’ve ever played ‘Call Of Cthulhu’ or read any of ol’ H.P’s short stories, you’ll be familiar with the themes explored over this and the previous two records. They really are immersive horror stories / pulp detective tales set to an old school death metal soundtrack, propelled along by Rogga’s characteristic riffing and lead work.
From opening track ‘Unholy Reprisal’ which starts with what sounds like torrential rain for a minute or so before exploding into a typical Johannson catchy, spiralling riff alongside Kam’s inhuman roar – seriously, I love this guy’s voice…take note all you ‘BREE BREE’ slam wankers, THIS is how you do death mental vocals!! Shrieks, screams, moans – the guy does it all and it totally fits the music / concept & never sounds out of place
Equally infectious is ‘Return To The House Of The Grotesque’ with its eerie & foreboding spoken outro, ‘Her Exquisite Corpse’ which has a simple yet fantastic chugging riff, the gloomy ‘Downfall – It’s All Gone To Hell’ which slows things down and crushes us under it’s leviathan like weight. My pick is the awesome ‘Magnum Innominandum’ & final track proper ‘This Is The End’ which almost has a goth like element to it. Both sound truly epic and are master-classes in death metal song writing.
There’s the odd spoken word bit of narrative between songs which some might find a bit overly dramatic but I really like – they fit the concept and give a real film noir tinge to proceedings as well as assisting us understand what the hell’s going on.
As much as Rogga & Kam’s performances are on point a shout outs must be given to drummer Brynjar Helgetun & Johan Berglund on bass. The bottom end is fat as you like and really underpins every savage riff Rogga is wringing from his guitar.
This is a cracking album and definitely the best of the trilogy. I do hope this being the final chapter doesn’t mean The Grotesquery are finished now – Nyarlathotep & I will not be pleased!
(8.5/10 Mark Eve)