(The) Grim Reaper live in the Underworld….. that statement sounds eerily fitting. Puns aside, tonight Grim Reaper cements its resurrection by launching “Walking In The Shadows”, the band’s first album in 27 years. It’s also a sort of warm-up, I suppose, for the band’s North American tour which kicks off a few days after tonight’s gig. The personal discography of band mainman Steve Grimmet is one I’ve long admired. Of course this includes all Grim Reaper albums, “In Search Of Sanity”…the solitary album he had done with Onslaught, and the melodically grand albums of Lionsheart, Grimmet’s band in the 1990s.
Therefore, personally speaking, I was looking forward to tonight’s event. Which is why I’m a tad surprised by the sluggish pace at which the venue fills up…..
THE DARKER MY HORIZON – www.facebook.com/darkerhorizonuk
…..but The Darker My Horizon still give their all and the audience seemed to appreciate that, applauding between songs and cheering every now and then.
The Darker My Horizon play a time-honoured brand of Hard Rock. Hence nothing out of this world but The Darker My Horizon oozed competence and I quite enjoyed their brief set. And how can I not, with all those solid riffs, great lead vocals and strong melodies. According to Paul Stead – The Darker My Horizon singer (who also plays guitar) – this gig was only the 3rd time the drummer was playing with the band, following 2 meagre rehearsals. Unless you observed and listened carefully, that bit of trivia wasn’t immediately obvious. From their set, I particularly digged ‘Paradise’ and ‘Closure’, which had some nifty guitar work.
The Darker My Horizon performed: No Superhero Part One, Diablo, Functional Dysfunctional, Paradise, Closure, Afraid, OK.
Next on were Neuronspoiler and I’m surprised I’d never heard of them before also because they’re based in London. (In actual fact, the band members’ origins are as far apart as France, England and the Caribbean.) Neuronspoiler play pure unadulterated Metal but the music has a strong old-school Thrash flavour infused with lots of melody. To my ears the band’s tightness was a tad inconsistent but that’s about the only negative thing I can say of their set.
Lead vocalist JR has an impressive Rob-Halford-like scream. Judging from his licks and from how he pranced about on stage, guitarist Dave Del Cid seems to have a soft spot for Yngwie Malmsteen. With a strong stage presence and performing with a manifest passion, Neuronspoiler were a welcome discovery and I strongly recommend them to any Metal fan. The band already seems to have a good following, as reflected by the boisterously supportive crowd.
Neuronspoiler played: Take The Stage, Irreverent, Hidden Agenda, Through Hell We March, The Brave One, This Is Revolution.
GRIM REAPER – http://grimreaperofficial.co.uk/
By the time Grim Reaper hit the stage the audience had grown to more reasonable proportions. The air was electric. Did the band live up to the audience’s expectations? Short answer: YES!
Songs from the new album sat strong and proud alongside the older repertoire and I particularly enjoyed ‘Walking In The Shadows’. But, predictably enough, it was classic Grim Reaper stuff that was most appreciated with the audience singing along to songs such as ‘Fear No Evil’, ‘Night Of The Vampire’ and ‘Rock Me ‘Till I Die’. Steve Grimmet aside, I was particularly impressed by all the band. Ian Nash, on guitar, was on fire. Drummer Paul ‘Bam-Bam’ White had a flamboyant but hard-hitting style of playing….which I liked. Mark Trail, on bass, was simply spot on. And all of them just gelled to perfection.
As for Steve Grimmet’s singing…I was a bit underwhelmed, even though I appear to be the only person to think so. Not even a cover of Dio’s ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’ won me over, although it was quite emotional hearing the audience sing all the lyrics to that song. But for me, the show reached its peak with set closer ‘See You In Hell’ (title-track from the band’s debut album) when both audience and band gave it all they had left.
Despite my reservations, tonight Grim Reaper get two thumbs up from me. The band boasts a quality repertoire which doubtlessly worked in the band’s favour.