I’ve come to expect a certain sound, or perhaps just a particular approach, when I learn a band is from the Birmingham area. That is to say, I expect to feel like I’m being flattened and molded by hammers like hot steel on the forge. Newcomers Grief Ritual are no different in this regard — their riffs have a gravity all their own, and sparks fly when they’re deep in a pummeling groove. It’s easy to lose yourself under the weight of their crossover annihilation and be reborn in the crucible as a pit fiend ready to lay waste to your surroundings.
That’s all by design of course. Though this is only their debut EP, the outfit feel well established and have a high IQ for cathartic brutality. Grief Ritual feel poised to join other young bands like Burner and Iron Tomb at the forefront of the UK’s new wave of blackened metallic hardcore. Dig into their influences below and check out “Immurement” from debut EP Spiritual Disease before it drops tomorrow.
Jamie Waggett (Vocals):
Wake – Misery Rites
Where does one begin to describe Wake? If you start with this 2018 album and move forward through 2020’s Devouring Ruin into 2022’s Thought Form Descent, you’ll find a band heavy on dynamically interesting and lush extreme metal, with death/black and blackened elements that evolve and grow with each release, never feeling forced or over-long. I first found Misery Rites on a bleak rainy winter’s day during the first UK lockdown and can still remember being utterly consumed by the groove and emotional harshness of tracks like “Embers”, “Rot”, and “Paradigm Lost” to this day. Misery Rites is the perfect album for me and I feel that there are elements of their sound which cross with Grief Ritual in terms of how crossover we are; the grimness, and vocally, the diversity.
Harm’s Way – Isolation
The intro track “Scrambled” captures a lot of the unique yet diverse malice and metallic hardcore that Harm’s Way had at this point in their career, and still does today. It also has to have one of the best builds on any hardcore or HM-2 hardcore adjacent release of the last 15 years or so to me, and when the track kicks in I always find it difficult not to want to kick-off. “Breeding Grounds” and “New Beginnings” are so punishing yet have this groove that you can’t help but be hooked into – and that is a big influence on our writing style. Vocalist James Pligge barks each lead vocal on this eight-track album with such intensity that you feel like he would tear you apart just for existing in the same space as him, whilst the rest of the band pound out unrelenting chord progressions and devastating rhythms that keep the whole album feeling tight as a drum but like a tectonic shift is about to occur and unleash a volcano of despair and hatred for mankind on you. The full Jon MacNair artwork that the album cover is taken from is also a thing of hideous beauty.
Fuming Mouth – The Grand Descent
I don’t think anyone else sounds quite like Fuming Mouth. They have this thickness and blasting brutal honesty about their sound that often overflows into breakdowns and moments of utter headbanging bliss that I can’t get enough of. Another band with crossover appeal – they have a potent mix of OSDM and hardcore and metalcore that reminds me in places of other Grief Ritual favourites Nails and Gatecreeper, but is very much their own. The production by Kurt Ballou is bang on and suits them perfectly on this release which envelopes you and drags you down to its own level of inner turmoil. That honesty and approach to themes is something I’ve tried to tap into, and I really relate to some of the things vocalist and songwriter Mark Whelan seems to be emoting on this release. This album is also perfectly complemented and adorned by the otherworldly artwork of the supremely talented Mariusz Lewandowski.
James Broady (Drums):
Justice For the Damned – Pain is Power
Arguably the most underrated band in heavy music at the minute. This album was a massive influence for me writing the EP. The assault of HM-2 riffs, the melodic sections, the tempo changes, the grooves, and the energy from start to finish. It really encapsulates – especially from a drumming point of view – what we are all drawn to in the band.
Gojira – From Mars to Sirius
One of the key influences on me as a drummer and definitely a band that inspires us to push ourselves musically. We may be a crossover band but metal is the one thing that unites us all and when it came to the musical arrangement on Spiritual Disease there’s no doubt this band played a big part.
Chris Ward (Guitar):
Power Trip – Manifest Decimation
To this day it’s still my favourite crossover record in my opinion. This band and record was one of the reasons I really wanted to be in a crossover project of some kind. The idea you could merge hardcore, thrash and death metal into something as fast, heavy and evil into one sound opened up a whole new way of how I wanted to craft a sound for Grief Ritual, merging all of our influences into one and striving to do something slightly different, or at the very least push us all in every aspect of being in a band. Rest In Power Riley Gale.
Cruel Hand – Lock and Key
It’d be pretty much impossible to start talking about my influences behind Grief Ritual without talking about Cruel Hand. This was one of the first physical hardcore records I picked up and it was the first time I’d ever heard singing vocals on a straight up hardcore record outside of bands like H2O, etc. which just changed the game for me on not having to adhere to a set of rules when creating a sound for your band. Combine that with some of the hardest stomps, grooves, and naughtiest two-steps you’ve ever heard and for me it was the perfect album. Revisiting this band really set in stone for me that I wanted to push the boundaries and combine whatever genres we needed to find the Grief Ritual sound.