Gritter: What a Bunch of Rubes

One of the most scathing comments I ever received to a review I wrote came in response to Rube’s Angry at the Missus EP. I don’t know what the Richmond, Virginia-based act did to piss off said commenter so much, but wow, ouch. I can only assume it was an accumulation of that kind of vitriol that led Rube to change their name to the somehow-even-more-Southern-sounding Gritter, which is the moniker they’re using to present their latest work, the self-released full-length Sour Mash and Spanish Moss.

Anyone who caught wind of the EP will be surprised at the upswing in production value on the long player. Gritter reportedly doubled their recording budget and it shows (as much as my liberal sensibilities are loath to equate money spent with quality attained, it makes a difference). The eight tracks total about 40 minutes, and everything on Sour Mash and Spanish Moss seems to be set for loud as possible Southern sludge. Of course, Eyehategod is a comparison point, but as voice-slinger Ryan Kent offers some clean vocals on “Deep Roller” and the band goes über-South rock behind him, it becomes clear Gritter have more to them than mere mimicry and genre adherence.

Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out just how much Kent, in voice, phrasing, rhythm, meter and scream, sounds like Phil Anselmo. It’s distracting, and much more so here than on the EP. Listening to the way his vocals are layered toward the end of “Thick as Thieves,” it’s so The Great Southern Trendkill that this review would be a farce if I didn’t make note of it. I like Anselmo’s style as much as the next guy, but Kent needs to inject more of his own personality into his work or Gritter is going to be held back by it in the long run. Listening, it pulls me out of the groove of Sour Mash and Spanish Moss, and that’s never a good thing.

That said, it has its work cut out for it in that task, since the groove of the full-length is so over-arching. The rhythm section of Big John on bass and drummer Pat Caine are locked in and intense, only bolstered by the more professional recording. I’m a fan of a rumbling mix, and Sour Mash and Spanish Moss definitely makes the most of Big John’s performance on a track like “Rent to Own,” on which he’s all the more conspicuous when he’s not playing. Caine’s drums are similarly huge, putting the guitars of Adam Kravitz on a more than solid foundation. Kravitz usually leads the charge, but even on the shorter, fast “Hit the Ground Runnin’,” it’s clear just how important Big John and Caine are to the overall effect the band has on the listener.

There’s still work to be done and development to be had. Richmond is a vibrant, admirable scene, and a great place for a band like Gritter to hone their chops as they continue to carve out their already formidable style. If Angry at the Missus proved Rube belonged in that scene, then Sour Mash and Spanish Moss shows that Gritter are making a move to be bigger players in it. But even more important than that, the full-length is Gritter’s beginning to capitalize on the potential they showed with the EP. Sound-wise it is fierce and pointed, degenerate and subversive, which, if you’re paying attention, is exactly what you want from this kind of Southern sludge.

Gritter on MySpace

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4 Responses to “Gritter: What a Bunch of Rubes”

  1. larus says:

    Other than the album cover conjuring up thoughts of those partially shredded cut off t-shirts sold at Kings Dominion circa 1983, this band seems to be leading the way in an effort to make Virginia the new South Carolina. They are like the underground metal band for the McDonnell/Cuccinelli crusade.

    The sound is relatively simple, predictable, and really does not have any stand outs. The cookie monster growl to scream is once again a tired attempt to remain true to a sound that is desperately in need of some progression. Fortunately, there are a few bands that recognize this and change is on its way.

  2. smiley says:

    i guess she didnt listen to Deep Roller..funny on how people only take the time to be negative

  3. Gritter – Sour Mash and Spanish Moss available at Curled Up Dead Records. Glad to have the band on our roster! Love the tunes… open your ears and your hearts… listen and learn… You will be seeing more of Gritter, trust us.

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