Wayyyyyda minute! This one is already out, right? Right?? Correctamundo! Grimpen Mire‘s unfathomably heavy debut ‘A Plague Upon Your Houses‘ did indeed come out on limited CD with at War With False Noise in 2013, but such was its gravity-bending, void-summoning impact on concrete basements across the UK and beyond, the ever-reliable Witch Hunter Records have seen fit to offer it a second home as a pay-whatcha-wanna download and a 50-limited run of cassettes. And fair play to all concerned because ‘A Plague…‘ remains an absolute fucking piledriver of an experience on whatever damn format that so dares as to contain it.
Laying down the gauntlet for anyone who wishes to contest the title of ‘Birmingham’s Most Bulldozing Band’, Paul van Linden (bass/vocals), Jim Goad (guitars/vocals) and Ian Davis (drums) warn you at the gates that there will be “no release” from their misery-clogged chokehold upon your sanity. Too deathly to be a true doom record and too doomed to be a true death metal album, ‘A Plague…‘ adeptly straddles a bottomless chasm somewhere in between the two. The power of Grimpen Mire‘s attack is fuelled by the solidity in battery of van Linden’s gut-splitting basslines synched to perfection with Goad’s brutal, yet gracefully calculated scyths of guitar, as is all too apparent on battering ram opener ‘Bloodcult Reborn‘. The chunky central riff is simple, yet monstrous as it drops from the heady heights of the bass cabs straight to the pit of your stomach. van Linden’s vocals are the primary force of the band’s verbal assault and if you can find a throat that can gargle blood in a more terrifying fashion, then please do send nominations on a postcard straight to us here at The Sleeping Shaman. At Davis’s deafening command behind the kit, the trio segue and slide between proto black thrashings and desolate plains of gore-dripping emptiness with all the ease of the dominant, experienced, circuit-worn act they’ve become.
Stumbling into the more open wastelands of ‘All Man’s Fears‘, Grimpen Mire open their eyes to the piercing rays of fractured sunlight somewhere deep within their forgotten burial chambers. Goad’s guitars begin to wander away from van Linden’s suffocating caves of pure volume to craft something altogether more ethereal while the band as a whole begin to hint at a more psychedelic tomorrow to meet with their murderous present intentions.
‘Cross The Rubicorn‘ is the epicentre of this coming together of ideas and represents the cornerstone of ‘A Plague…‘s entire sonic ideology. Goad’s chopping-action riffs hit Davis’ enormous wall of drummed intensity and van Linden’s head-caving lunacy of a voice with the energy of two Boeing 747s colliding mid-flight. As Goad slides away from the massacre with his coarse backing vocals kicking and screaming into the night, he begins to craft the album’s most eloquent expression of hope through a scintillating, feedback-engorged, mish-mash of a solo. Ultimately though, it was never meant to last and ‘Cross the Rubicon’ concludes with three and a half minutes of crawling, pain-eeping sludgecraft.
Both the lengthy ‘Black Mass Hallucination‘ and the audible implosion that is ‘As Above So Below’ cut away the thrash-influenced bark of the first three songs to carve out their own tomb of crust-cornered, snail-paced destruction. Both topping nine minutes apiece, ‘A Plague…‘s two concluding tracks may lack some of the versatility of their predecessors but if you weren’t convinced before their smouldering ignition that you were done for; abandoned, terrified and alone in the grimpen mire of your own sorry demise, then by the album’s harrowing completion you definitely will be.
With bands like Grimpen Mire able to land debut records of this line of brain-haemorrhaging torment and supremacy, it’s a truly exciting time to be a heavy music fan in the Midlands, or indeed anywhere in the vicinity of records as sludge-hammering as ‘A Plague Upon Your Houses‘. I usually like to call out “sounds like” bands as a hook or reference point in a review for a debut record, but with Grimpen Mire I really don’t feel the need to associate these guys with anyone else. Just head over to Witch Hunter on Bandcamp or BigCartel and inflict this blood-craved mess of a plague on your own darn house for your own sick, depraved and bubonic pleasure immediately.
Scribed by: Pete Green