Great Grief- Love, Lust and Greed
The record comes out December 7th. Preorder here.
In May 2014, Icelandic hardcore act Icarus came out with their debut EP, Ascending // Descending. In this brief 8-track, 24-minute display, the group showed intense passion and energy, making for a solid listen. It was by no means exceptional to the genre, and they certainly wore their Defeater and Touché Amoré influences on their sleeves, but they’ve performed this style with taste and heart. Songs like “Tirade” and “Feed Me a Stray Cat” have gone down as some of my favorite hardcore tracks of 2014. A little more than a year later, the group renamed themselves Great Grief and released a split with experimental metalcore trio Bungler, There’s Not Setting Sun Where We Are. This became one of my favorite EPs of 2015, showing Great Grief had matured as songwriters. They remained relatively silent through 2016 and most of 2017, until the band announced they were going to be managed by Party Smasher Inc. late in the year, after which they performed with the likes of God Mother, Gatherers, and Actor|Observer. In November of this year, the group announced their recording signing to No Sleep Records and their debut full-length project, Love, Lust and Greed, out December 7th. We at Metal Lifestyle have gotten an insider look into this new project.
After four years, it should come as no surprise that they didn’t write a longer, more focused version of their debut EP. Great Grief present the same anger and melancholy on tracks like “Escaping Reykjavík” and “God Sent” with a newfound black metal vibe and a little bit of post-rock, influenced by the likes of deafheaven and Altars of Plague. Of course, given the angry and evil-sounding Icelandic black metal scene, it’s no wonder that these songs play on the rage Great Grief have stored up over the last few years. On the flip side, though, there are tracks like “Ivory (Lies)” and “Troubled Canvas” that are much catchier and sassier, with raunchy Gallows vibes contrasting with more passionate moments that bring out later-career Thursday. Then there’s the interlude, “Inhale the Smoke,” which is a whole new beast with its creepy Nicole Dollanganger vibe, especially reminiscent of her track with Full of Hell, “Trumpeting Ecstasy.” It has an eerie piano and haunting guest vocals from Krummi of Mínus. These songs are structured in unique fashion, giving room to all the unique new influences in Great Grief’s sound, proving how much stronger Great Grief have gotten over the last few years. The havoc on “Fluoxetine (Burden Me)” could scare off every track this group has written up to this point.
I’ve always appreciated Great Grief for letting their bass be heard. Hardcore always has trouble giving its bassist the spotlight, but Fannar Már Oddsson’s bass has much say in how these songs play out. The low-end work on “Feeling Fine,” “Pathetic,” and “Ivory (Lies)” uphold the dark tone of the record, and the groove is prominent across the board, helping to separate Great Grief from most hardcore acts.
Whether it’s keeping things steady or in full assault mode, Leifur Örn Kaldal’s drums sound in-your-face and ready to knock you out. The black metal-inspired blast beats on “Escaping Reykjavík” and “God Sent” are absolutely chilling. I never expected to feel such an emotional connection to the drumwork on a LP until I heard these tracks, which goes to show how every aspect of Great Grief is ripe with emotion.
Gunnar Ágúst Thoroddsen’s guitarwork does take a backseat on many of these tracks, but effectively set the mood on tracks like “Troubled Canvas” and “The Nihilist Digest,” giving them the raw, passionate rush energy we’ve come to expect of Great Grief. I love the chaotic feedback at the end of “Fluoxetine (Burden Me),” and the grooves on “Ludge.” For the most part, while the guitar does have an important place in the overall sound, it’s not often the catalyzing force in these song.
Finnbogi Örn Einarsson has always been a characterful frontman, but he’s a changed man on Love, Lust and Greed. Check out “The Nihilist Digest” and “Ivory (Lie)” for the punk fury the group was founded on, and “God Sent” for a vicious new metal-with-a-hardcore-twist persona. Finnbogi also debuts his clean vocals with this record, which come in two styles: raspy and belligerent on“Feeling Fine,” or shy and worrisome on “Pathetic.” While clean vocals on a post-hardcore record aren’t groundbreaking, these are some of the best cleans I’ve heard in the genre. He proves himself a versatile, passionate, and talented frontman who performs with genuine talent and the utmost power.
The climax of Love, Lust and Greed comes with “Roots,” which shares the title of the record in its subtitle. This is a song Great Grief have hung onto for years, building up and improved it over time, finally delivering a four-and-a-half minute exhibition of their deepest wounds. This song is straight up heavy, sinister, and depressing; a dark look into life, where it goes and what drives it. Tying together the album’s many themes, “Roots” makes a strong closer…except it doesn’t, because Love, Lust and Greed ends with “Ludge.” While it’s a strong song in its own right, it doesn’t make sense after “Roots.”
But aside from rearranged the tracklist a little, I have no problem with these 34 minutes of truly incredible post-hardcore. This was well-worth the wait, and I hope all fans of -core music give this one a go on Friday. It’s diverse, emotional, and quite simply amazing.
VERDICT: Love, Lust and Greed manages to perfectly balance mature songwriting and uncontrollable emotion perfectly in just over half an hour.
- Alex Brown