Every now and then I like to go back and explore these bands from the earlier to mid early (that’s a thing) ear of metal. As my time as a metal devotee I’d often dismiss these early bands or NWOBHM as fluff or too close to glam rock or something stupid that isn’t really true and now that I’ve found a better appreciation for this music I periodically feel the need to explore it more. For example, the Angel Witch review I did recently which almost blew my mind with awesome. So with that in my I’m going to go over Grim Reaper. All of it. Well, at least the full-lengths.
Surprising that there weren’t already 700 bands called Grim Reaper by the time this band showed up on the scene, Grim Reaper are firmly in the NWOBHM category of metal. Maybe even just traditional heavy metal (is that much different from NWOBHM) but they are from England so I guess the NWOBHM tag applies. To my ears they seem a little more rough around the edges, with a little more dirt on them than some of the other NWOBHM bands. I’m sure they thought they were being edgy by calling their debut album See You in Hell, and featuring songs with “hell” in the title. Ah, such innocent times, but the overall production of the first album is rougher, less polished, even though the band was clearly trying to write a mass appealing metal album evident by all the powerful chorus and verse, chorus, repeat structure. The riffs are pretty standard for the genre at the time, but there’s a good energy to it and a solid drive behind the music. I know this album is often cited as a classic, maybe an under appreciated classic and I know I’ve heard what seems like dozens of covers from this album (“See You in Hell” much) and I’m glad to have finally heard the original source. It’s a solid album, through and through, and typically fun as this time period usually is, but I wouldn’t say it’s classic.
On their follow up, Grim Reaper stick to the same path with their straight forward heavy metal blast, albeit perhaps with more of a good times vibe. More of a “pop” metal approach. Lot’s of songs about “good time rock n’ roll” or metal themed weather phenomenon. Typical 80’s metal cheese-fest topics. This time the production is a little more polished and the mix is a little more even. I kind of liked the rawer nature of the first one more. Vocalist Steve Grimmett really upped his game on this one and his voice is more of the star this time around simply by just being so fucking on point. Again, 80’s cheeseball fun.
On their third and final album (unless you count the new album released under the Steve Grimmett moniker) Grim Reaper made possibly their best album. Everything from the first two all seemed to gel on this one with the riffs and solos being taken up a notch, Grimmett’s vocals just fucking killing it, and an overall well done production. Plus, arguably, the best cover art of the three. It’s more cheesy traditional heavy metal fun that occasionally veers off the deep end (“Suck it and See”) but it’s just as enjoyable, maybe even more than the other two.
So there you have Grim Reaper. I know that Steve Grimmett gets a lot of respect as an older metal stalwart and I’ve not ventured into anything he’s done aside from these albums. They may be good, I don’t know. What I do know is these Grim Reaper albums are definitely a product of their time, a cheese-filled time capsule back to the 80s when metal was the law of the land.