Pissed off, moody hardcore is one of the more ubiquitous niches of heavy music. As a member of several Internet groups celebrating these types of acts (the good groups, not the ones filled with failed terminations shouting at each other about sneakers), it’s hard to come across one that stands out. Yes, Grieved do stand out above the rest and they do so because there is none of the typical alpha male posturing in their music. Their first release on Prosthetic is self titled and it’s obvious why; these are musicians who’ve decided what it is they want to say and have figured out exactly how to get that across as best they can. This is them at their most honest and vulnerable and what’s better than aggressive, riff heavy hardcore from the heart? Nothing.
Grieved’s debut, Samaritans, was enjoyable as fuck. Dark and kinda dingy, the balance of mosh and atmosphere leaned far more favorably towards the former while this new spin definitely dips more into the latter. There are less open spaces of guitar feedback and clean guitars, instead the atmosphere generated on Grieved is a bit more palpable. Borrowing tones from The Ocean, Cult Of Luna and Gojira, some post metal influence isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a real feeling of being dragged through the mire on tracks like “June 22” that segue seamlessly into hardcore stompers a la “Drain“. Thick, layered guitars are the starting course with grimy low end strings and an incredibly direct percussion performance making up the meat course of the record. Yes, meat. This is a substantial cut of dark, bloody flesh and bone. The blood flows freely through the slow, chugging moments and pumps even harder when things get fired up for those crowd killing passages and beatdowns.
There are numerous short bursts of seething rage on this record but”Shattered” sticks out, even with a fairly stock chug-bass riff verse pattern. It’s visceral and demands movement from the listener with each kick and snarl of it’s minute and a half run time. “Fogbound” is a perfect single too, with gnarly hardcore riffs and a giant build up section that will incite the most deadly of pits. Some of the riffing and structure present on Grieved is going to be very familiar to hardcore fans. There are only so much chugs and sustained chords that exist after all. What keeps everything charging forward is these young Swedes’ attention to the smaller details. Short bursts of a third guitar track stab out of nowhere and the vocals are always wretching, spitting and bemoaning what it is to be a young Stockholm native. The lack of gang chants and call outs/countdowns is also a blessing. That shit is soooooo 2005. Refreshingly, the man behind the lung kit likes to let tracks blossom before bursting in, something which a catalog of bands could take on board.
Getting to this point of the review and considering what kind of score Grieved should get is arbitrary. Hardcore fans who should enjoy this will still scratch their heads and wonder where the gang vocals are and where the tough guy comes in. People who dick on hardcore will probably dismiss ’em off the bat because they are a hardcore band at the end of the day. Grieved don’t give a fuck whether or not their music is going to change any ones lives. This is their story and it is a highly gratifying one at that; a story for those horrible winter days where everything seems that extra bit shittier and a barrage of riffs and hostility is the only saving grace.