I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release for quite some time now. I’ve been following the career of Johan Lindstrand since I discovered THE CROWN many years ago and the first two releases of ONE MAN ARMY AND THE UNDEAD QUARTET were great Death Metal releases. So to say that I was excited when “Grim Tales” was announced is an understatement.
Despite an overwhelming mediocrity that tends to plague many of the bands that try to blend Death and Thrash Metal, I have yet to be disappointed with OMAATUQ and their releases. Their last album was experimental and yet worked ridiculously well. Although I still prefer it even to “Grim Tales” this is far from anything but the best from the band.
One of the biggest changes is that the band has returned to their original sound for “Grim Tales”. Where “Error In Evolution” had the band experimenting with Rock N Roll injected song writing, this album focuses more on the Death/Thrash combination and its chemistry. Dense songwriting and layering make this album a great repetitive listen. It was on the later spins that I was really starting to get into many of the tracks (“Cursed By The Knife” was originally very lackluster for me but the great bass work and structuring made it become a favorite later on).
Performance wise, this is still a great album for them. I was a little tentative going into it knowing that OMAATUQ had lost a guitarist since the last release. Mattias Bolander is a great guitarist though and none of riffs or soloing suffers with his presence on the album. The riffs are still bigger than life, the melodies are still addictive, the bass still thundering, and the drumming more than impressive.
Not to mention that Lindstrand’s unique roar is still as punishing to the ears as it was with THE CROWN. I miss some of the experimental elements he tried with his voice on the last record but its nothing to complain about really. He still does some of his sinister whispering parts (it adds a whole new level of creepiness to the lyric ‘Hey little bitch’ on the song “A Date With Suicide”) and the group chants have the Thrash fan in me smiling quite a bit.
It’s not my favorite album from the band, but its still one of the best albums of the year. A unique listen that may require a few spins to really catch on, “Grim Tales” is the band strutting their talents and their tongue-in-cheek flavor in some of the best ways. The band has been putting out a release at least once a year at this point and if they continue to make each album as good as “Grim Tales” then they may be one of the most talented bands in the scene yet.
Songs to check out: “Saint Lucifer”, “The Frisco Reaper”, “Cursed By The Knife”.
(Online December 28, 2008)