Great Grief are an Alternative/Hardcore band from Reykjavík, Iceland. Formed in 2013, they have played all over the USA, Canada and their home country as well. They've recently signed to No Sleep Records (home of Wonder Years, La Dispute and Touché Amor) with Love, Lust & Greed being the first fruit of this union. I heard the lead single from this album "Ivory (Lie)" whilst searching for songs for my radio show, much like Valleyheart, I was immediately intrigued by them. Love, Lust & Greed was released on 7th December 2018, so it missed the cut for last years best of, but can it make the list for 2019?
01 - Fluoxetine: Burden Me
Wham, bam, and it's straight out of the blocks for Great Grief with "Love, Lust & Greed". There is an explosive nature to this song, one which seems like a distant cousin to some songs from Converge. There is nothing sophisticated about this, like a boot to the head, you gonna notice "Fluoxetine: Burden Me". It's a brutal opening, with a quiet lull in the middle, just to make you feel at ease....before hitting you once again.
02 - Feeling Fine
"Feeling Fine" is another short, sharp number, but with a less-aggressive tone to the guitars. Much like Minor Threat and Fugazi, there is a power behind the music and shouting, but it's not just brutality for brutalities sake. I like "Feeling Fine" a lot, it's a unique mix of noise and structure, which is a hard act to pull off.
03 - Troubled Canvas
"Troubled Canvas" sticks closely to the sound developed on "Feeling Fine", with a melodic tone to the guitars and a harsh delivery to the vocals. You can feel the mosh pit forming already in your mind, this is not a song which you would want to stay still to. The more I listen to it, to deeper the groove becomes in my head, all brought about by the merciless pounding of Great Grief.
04 - Escaping Reykjavik
Now that was not expected, but I guess it should have been. The beginning of "Escaping Reykjavik" has what can only be described as a Darkthrone beginning. It's Black Metal, but without being Black Metal. It's just an intense and relentless attack, one which doesn't relent or cave in. You can tell that they're part of Scandinavian Nations, just for that Northern Metal sound to the drums on this one. What fucking song!
05 - Pathetic
At the beginning of this song, I was scared that Great Grief where going to drop the ball, with a slower song a little too early on this album. Instead, they just kick me in the head with another aggressive number that starts slowly, but then explodes into life! I'm digging the traditional Hardcore vibe to this band, one that they mix wonderfully with the modern "noise" sound that is slowly coming back into fashion (more on that later). What is there not to like here? It's a great song, one which sounds like it would rather fight you than find out who you are.
06 - Inhale the Smoke
"Inhale the Smoke" is the first song on the album to step away from the amplifier honour path, for the most part, it succeeds in creating a different aspect for Great Grief. This song has a long piano intro and then a slow and aggressive ending. And you have to admit that it fits perfectly on Love, Lust and Greed, it also offers a bit of variety to the album. Whilst not my favourite, it's nice to see some variation to their sound.
07 - The Nihilist Digest
....and it's back on the good foot with "The Nihilist Digest". More noise, more attack and further aggression from this Icelandic outfit. This song is full of swearing, loud bass, crashing drums and loud guitars. As an old school Metal/Punk/Hardcore/Alternative kid, I cannot help but smile whilst listening to this song. It's a throwback, but with a modern take. I love that a song such as "The Nihilist Digest" has been created and released in a time when bands with guitars are supposed to be on the decline. I think Great Grief missed that memo or told the sender to fuck off.
08 - Ivory (Lie)
"Ivory (Lie)" was the first song I heard on this album whilst looking for songs for my radio show, it stuck out from the list I'd been sent by a country mile in the middle of December. At that point, it was mostly Christmas songs, "Ivory (Lie)" is as far from a Christmas song as you can get without turning into Sunn 0))))). After a brief drop of feedback, you launched into a sea of noise, swimming against riff after thunderous riff. It might sound cliched, but the first song you hear is sometimes the best. This is the case with "Ivory (Lie)" for me. It captures Great Grief at their best, which is something glorious and noisy at the same time.
09 - God Sent
As subtle as a Presidental debate in America at the moment, "God Sent" is a close third (I'll explain later) in my ranking of songs on Love, Lust and Greed. It just oozes confidence, this is not the sort of song you can do without that belief in your own sound. There are no apologies here, no remorse, just a fuck you to the world and everyone who gets in their way. "God Sent" does not deal in grey areas, there is only those who get it and those who don't. I'm finding myself falling under their spell more and more with each spin of the record.
10 - Roots (Love, Lust and Greed)
And the reason "God Sent" was this is "Roots (Love, Lust and Greed)". Pure and simple, it's a hair's breadth away from taking the top track of the album. I can see why they took the album's title from this track. You don't get attacked so much as annihilated, you are stamped into the bitter distance and then some more for good measure. There is nothing fancy or flashy about this song, it's just an explosive and beautiful number.
11 - Ludge
Alas, all things must come to an end and "Ludge" brings the curtains down on Love, Lust and Greed. And what an ending we have here Ladies & Gentlemen. You have a slow and meticulous song, one which attacks you with riff and riff, drum beat after drum beat and low slung bass with hits you in the chest. There is positive aggression on this album, and "Ludge" is a great example on how you can achieve a sound that is both melodic and noisy at the same time. It doesn't so much bring the curtain down, as tear it off the chain and set fire to the surroundings.
Great Grief are in a unique and wonderful position. At this present time, there are a few bands which are lazily being lumped together as "noise" rock, which is really another name for Hardcore/Alternative Punk. You have Whores, Idles, Blacklister, The Armed, Tounge Party and now you can add Great Grief to that list of names. Whilst all of these acts have a similar sonic attack, each one brings something different to the part. Great Grief bring a new groove to this group of bands, something that is both melodic, noisy and harsh as walk over broken glass. I love this album, it genuinely brings a smile to my face for all the wrong/right reasons (delete as applicable). I think there is more to come from Great Grief, hence why I've marked it as shown below. But that doesn't mean this is not a great album, if it had have been released a week earlier, it would have been in the top ten of 2018. As it stands, it's the first album to book it's a ticket to the end of year list for 2019. I hope that people check it out if you like any of the bands listed at the beginning of this paragraph, I know it'll hit that sweet noise spot!
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....
Top track -Ivory (Lie)
You can purchase Love, Lust & Grief on Bandcamp here.
You can follow the activities of Great Grief on Facebook here.
You can stream Love, Lust and Greed on Spotify here.
You can stream Love, Lust & Greed on Deezer here.
At the time of writing, Love, Lust & Greed was not available on Tidal