Soul Grip are a five piece from Ghent in Belgium and what rages in my ears is their second full length of post Blackness. I can hear the eyes rolling in their sockets. “More short haired folk mixing My Bloody Valentine with Darkthrone riffs”. Members of the band come from various hardcore and post hardcore bands and they bring the intensity and dexterity that you would expect from those sub-genres.
Opener “Ton Reve” opens with a rasped scream and bursts into head down Black Metal cacophony. This is a lot more “evil” sounding than I expected. Blastbeats and frenzied vocals compliment the frosty fast riffs. Moody breaks are provided to get ones breath back providing some washed out watercolours amongst the charcoal strokes. Eventually the track drifts into a melancholy guitar litany. I’m sold.
“Ailes Noircies” enters triumphant like a bugle at the Walls of Jericho. The maelstrom that follows is chaotic and enthralling. Again, Soul Grip change pace several times to add nuance to the maelstrom , a brooding bassline proceeds the descent into more necro blasts. There is something really primal about this band, delving as they do into the darkest caverns of the Black Metal sound – you would expect the band to be clad head to toe in leather and spikes, dripping in corpse paint and pigs blood. However, whereas so much of the most underground BM can be traced to punk and minimalist hardcore, Soul Grip have certainly not let go of their Post Hardcore roots. Throughout this album the construction of each track is carefully scaffolded. The chaos is contained within a careful construct – organised chaos if you will. Grav I and II contains some of the tightest drumming I have heard for a while and the washed out backing vocals barely whisper behind the guitars creating a spectral air. Just like Russ Abbott I love a bit of atmosphere and there is plenty within this album.
“Grand” begins within another sneering rasp and propels the listener headlong, through a mix of blackened riffs and hardcore breaks before stalling to minimal drums and guitars with the vocalist disappearing to the next chamber in the adjoining catacombs (listen – you’ll see what I mean). Some strings add some more grandiosity. This is a lot of fun! (Is it supposed to be fun – surely these Belgians aren’t po-faced grimmers?)
The title track has a truly beautiful intro. Gentle, haunting, brooding it casts rotting rose petal down for the feet of the weary to tread upon. The fragrant path leads to a black doom behemoth of a track. Gargantuan drums underpin soaring guitars to heart-breaking effect. Think Pornography era Cure with studs.
Talking of hulking brutes, Soul Grip end proceedings with a 10 and half minute opus entitled “Fiend”. Lots of tempo changes, bombast and grandiosity which is needed in a track of this length. It left me feeling as though I was being hooked in all directions like Frank in Hellraiser. By the time the track ends in a crescendo of distortion and rasped screams I feel sated and a little dirty. In a good way!
Soul Grip have kept the menace and attack within their post black blueprint which raises it above the myriad shoegazing wannabes that seem to flood the internet of late. Horns aloft and heads down.
(8/10 Matt Mason)