Review by Ben for Grip Inc. - Nemesis (1997)
Another great groove / thrash metal album by an underrated band.
I was happy to see that Grip Inc. kept the same line-up for their second outing Nemesis. I found much to enjoy on their debut Power of Inner Strength and was looking forward to seeing whether what was originally a side project could develop into something not only permanent, but also relevant. Being the band that contains legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo means they were always going to face comparisons to the thrash metal kings, which is why I think they made a great decision when they decided not to directly compete. Grip Inc. is not a Slayer clone, and even if the debut (and a couple of tracks on Nemesis) hints that the band wanted a piece of the same pie, Nemesis expands their sound well beyond the realms of thrash metal, and only occasionally ramps up the ferocity into Slayer-like territory. Instead, the band performs a sort of groove metal / thrash metal hybrid that also touches on progressive metal on the odd occasion. Think Pantera mixed with Slayer with a sprinkling of Devin Townsend. But enough about technicalities, just how good is Nemesis? I’m happy to say that it’s damn good and in my opinion is just slightly better than the already great debut.
When Grip Inc. play fast they do remind of Slayer on more than just a percussive level, but it must be said that they lack the sheer intensity to really match them and suffer for only containing a single guitarist. Tracks like Portrait of Henry and War Between One rip it up in no uncertain terms but could really do with a thicker rhythm section to get the most out of them. Thankfully, most of the Nemesis is mid-paced and filled with variety, so that weakness isn’t exposed a heck of a lot. Scream at the Sky is the track that brings Devin Townsend to mind, not only due to Waldemar’s clean vocal style being reminiscent of the crazed Canadian, but also the progressive elements of the composition. It’s not my favourite track on Nemesis by any stretch, but it’s certainly a nice mid album variation to keep things interesting. All the remaining tracks are cracking mid paced pieces that combine aggressive vocals, a combination of grooves and shredding riffs, and Lombardo’s awesome drumming. Grip Inc. sure know how to write memorable material and while the track lengths are not particularly long, each one offers something slightly different with the result being an absorbing, entertaining listen.
I’m a bit confused about the themes behind Nemesis. The name itself may be derived from the Greek Goddess of Retribution, which seems likely when you consider the rather mythological stone figures found on the album cover. But then the same artwork offers up a Middle Eastern atmosphere (desert sands etc.), and it’s this sound that raises its head throughout the album. A few leads, such as on The Summoning, certainly have a Middle Eastern flair and Lombardo’s tribal styled drumming on Empress of Rancor, Descending Darkness and Code of Silence just scream of some primal ancient culture. These tracks are the highlights of the album for me along with opener Pathetic Liar, which makes me wish that the band had embraced the theme more completely and injected it into the entire album. Then again, I guess we always have Nile to fulfil that need for historical ethnicity in metal. In the end I’ve Once again found myself immensely impressed by Grip Inc. and am surprised that they don’t get more recognition. I can only assume that the band missed the boat that would undoubtedly have given them great success back in the late 80s, early 90s, and instead remain an underground gem for treasure seeking metal fans.