It was last year that I was first introduced to grief of WAR and their inventive use of capitalization. It was a wonderful introduction, both parties got along well and there was definite chemistry and hope for the future. Of course, this was all through clenched teeth, raised fist, and a rather prominent attitude, but you could still sense the love in the air.
The reason this meeting came about was Prosthetic Records was bringing the band across the ocean to the west, introducing them to a band from the east that had a love for the music of the west. Yes, a Japanese band playing thrash was invading the shores where the style originated. They may not have made a big splash, but it was memorable for me.
Grief of WAR's debut album, 2005's a mounting crisis… as their fury got unleashed, came to American shops in 2008. It was not an album that everyone lined up for, but those who found it knew they had something special. It was raw, aggressive, and pure. Of course, such an auspicious debut brings up the question of whether or not they can keep it up. Four years after their debut, and one scant 15 months since my discovery, the band is back with their sophomore effort, Worship.
I am happy to report that the raw aggression, in your face attitude, and pure thrash sound is still here. Time has not diluted or softened their desire to deliver the metal. Their sound has been dubbed "Samurai Crunch" and it is definitely crunchy, just as it slices through the air like a samurai sword.
Formed in 2002, grief of WAR have the stated purpose of being "the true heir of real thrash metal." Now, I do not know how far along that road they will get, but this new album does not hurt them any. The biggest problem is that this is nothing that we haven't heard before. It certainly has been awhile since we have seen a new band come around with the finely tuned and seriously focused talent of grief of WAR to play it so convincingly. In their favor, we do not always need new and cutting edge, a band that has the skills to turn out solid music in a familiar genre should not be ignored. Grief of WAR is no mere copycat, they took the sounds of yesterday and have made them fresh again.
The album opens to what sounds a little bit like the tuning of a radio with the sounds of a storm building up. In the matter of a few seconds. a drum hit and a furious guitar riff welcome you to the opening track, "Crack of Doom." From this moment forward, the fast and furious sounds of thrash do not let up, not even for a moment.
This is not an album about melody. You can throw that right out the window. The guitars of Ken Sato and Hiroyuki Inoue are raw, gruff, and incessant. The riffs are more like a punch to the face than a caress of the jaw and are the centerpiece of Samurai Crunch. They are backed by a solid, if mediocre, rhythm section of Masatomo Otani on drums and vocalist Manabu Hirose handling the bass. As for the vocals They are of the barked variety and fit the style perfectly.
So, when you start up Worship, here are a few tracks to key in on: "New Kind of Wicked," "Built My Brain," and "Lost."
Bottomline. While not moving into uncharted waters, grief of WAR does a great job of navigating the waters of the past. This is thrash of the old school variety, no frills, straight ahead, and angry. Press play and be prepared to rock!