By Breanna Whipple
CALGARY — In the midst of a pile of discarded bones a stone tablet reads ‘Fear the Reaper. No One Escapes His Evil Power.’ The year is 1985 and visions of a monstrous humanoid hellhound consume the television sets of headbangers everywhere. Battling the encapsulation of evil is a foursome of leather-clad heavy metal warriors, defining the core of the genre and proving the power of pummeling riffs over any exterior force.
Leading the brigade known as Grim Reaper is Steve Grimmett, who may appear to be a mere mortal prior to unveiling an unfathomably powerful voice. After releasing three sacred full-lengths in the ‘80s long worshipped by defenders of the lead based, harmonically driven traditional metal, a brief chapter with thrash metal outfit Onslaught, and countless other masterful musical endeavours, Grimmett returned to his roots in 2006 when he banded together Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper.
Fresh from the fire is Walking in the Shadows, and regardless of it being the first full-length released under the Grim Reaper belt in nearly 30 years, it is equally as punishing as all the rest.
“For us it was very important to do this,” Grimmett recounts on the continuance of the traditional roots of his latest album.
“Ian [Nash, guitars] and I have been writing and recording songs for years always improving our craft, now I’m not saying we were going backwards in writing this album but we wanted some consistency, to make it the fourth album, not only in song structure but old school recording techniques, so, we recorded drums, bass and guitars the old school way. I recorded the instruments in my studio so I know there is nothing added, there are no samples in there at all, and I’m sure you agree we hit the mark.”
Led footing on the accelerator of Walking in the Shadows is the metallic and aggressive anthem, “Wings of Angels.” Not unlike nearly every song included in their discography, the chorus is the pinnacle, encouraging pounding fists and banging heads by the masses. Altogether, the album is comprised of 12 tracks true to the traditional structures with an old school feel uncommon with modern metal releases. By no means is it a complete throwback to the group’s earlier work, but with the addition of a band that contains no previous Grim Reaper members, Grimmett perfectly demonstrates how he has mastered his craft throughout his extensive and colourful musical journey that started way back in 1979. It was then that Grim Reaper caught their big break in 1979 when they won a battle of the bands competition. An idea easily romanticized, yet apparently not so.
“It was horrific and I swore I would never put myself through that again, but it was as the start of all you see. We won 24 hours in a 24 track studio, we made a demo that I gave to Ebony Records and the rest is history.”
The decade that followed saw the band release See You in Hell (1983) and Fear No Evil (1985) via Ebony, and then get picked up by larger label RCA for their grand finale Rock You To Hell (1987). Unfortunately, the album didn’t perform as well as the label expected in the American market, and the band was unceremoniously dropped. They broke up shortly after in 1988, but were resurrected by Grimmett in 2006 as a solo project, which also became the lineup for Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper. Staying true to methods of the old regardless of the vast changes in the music industry, Grimmett still values the importance of touring.
“It’s the only way we can reach out and see our fans, it’s the hardest work I have ever done but the most rewarding,” he says. “One of the most fortunate things about my band is we all get along, the fun starts at the airport and continues until we get home so every day is a highlight.”
Fanatics may wonder why Grimmett has taken the initiative to rock his fans to hell once more. The answer lies within them.
“I will always look after our fans, because without them we can’t do this, they are passionate about their music, and you can’t beat that, and to be fair that’s the whole world over. It’s a true brotherhood and it’s bloody fantastic.”
Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper performs in Calgary, Alberta on November 16th at Distortion and in Edmonton, Alberta on November 17th at the Mercury Room.AB, Alberta, Distortion, Grim Reaper, Mercury Room, Steve Grimmett, Steve Grimmett's Grim Reaper, Walking in the Shadows