Grief, Come to Grief (1994)
Boston outfit Grief weren’t the first sludge band, but they might have been the first extreme sludge band. The really insane thing is that by the time they got around to putting out their sophomore album, Come to Grief, in 1994 — on Century Media, no less — their rawest work was already behind them. Their debut long-player, Dismal, had hit a year earlier, preceded by an EP of the same name, as well as the band’s first short release, 1992’s Depression. Between those and the couple splits between the first album and the second one, Grief‘s catalog had already forged some of its meanest output, and while I won’t take away from the grueling misanthropy that still pervaded their later work, albums like Miserably ever After (1996) and Torso (1998), Come to Grief seemed to be the perfect balance between regressive chaos and stylistic forward-thought that it’s the source of much of their enduring legacy to the point that when putting together a short-lived semi-reunion earlier this year, guitarist Terry Savastano (currently of Conclave) did so under the moniker Come to Grief.
Grief at the time was Savastano, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward (now of Morne), bassist Randy Odierno and drummer Rick Johnson. Eric Harrison, who supplied Come to Grief‘s manic cover art, would later play bass in the band, and a full 21 years after its release, the album itself remains no less challenging than that cover. It is a slog, plain and simple. Single-minded in its disgruntled fuckall and deeply indebted as is much of sludge to hardcore punk, some of its riffing is no less akin to the death metal of the time — the key difference separating the two on a song like “Hate Grows Stronger” would be the swing in Johnson‘s drums — but even more than that, the album’s extremity is one of perspective. It would still be half a decade before Sleep belted lines about dropping out of life, bong in hand, but Grief give a way more accurate depiction of what mindset might actually lead someone to do that. Whether it’s “I Hate You” or “Stricken” or “Come to Grief” or “Fed Up,” which is almost Black Flaggian in how straightforward its lyrics are, Grief‘s pill-popping depressiveness is writ large front to back across the album, and being as it was the CD era, that’s a significant span at 54:32. I feel like anyone could take 36 minutes of this stuff, but then, Grief never seemed all that interested in making it easy for their audience.
Hope you enjoy, such as it is.
Rough day at work. I don’t think one breaks out Grief otherwise. I won’t go into it, but suffice it to say, I really, really, really wish I could do this for a living.
Went and saw Clutch, C.O.C. and The Shrine tonight. All three were killer. More expansive review on Monday. Yeah, I know it’s a holiday. Writing for this site is a treat for me at this point. It’ll be like fucking Xmas.
Also next week, a Snail review, and a Monster Magnet review, or maybe All Them Witches, depending largely on mood. Also hope to write up that Admiral Browning tape. Because it’s Admiral Browning, dang it!
It’s headed toward three in the morning, so I’ll leave it there. There’s other stuff coming up this week, but it’ll just have to be a surprise because it’s too late for me to think of it. We’ll be surprised together.
Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream. Especially the forum. The forum is fucking awesome. That’s the knowledge I have to share.