Genre/Influences: Industrial, pop-rock, indie.
Format: Digital, CD.
Background/Info: The sixth album of Grendel, “Ascending The Abyss” was already released several months ago. The previous opus “Age Of The Disposable Body” saw frontman Jos Tucker ‘reinventing’ Grendel. The early dark-electro and aggrotech style got transposed into a new approach featuring guitar riffs.
Content: This new work only confirms the move towards different influences and clearly sounds as a break with the past. The guitar, played by Erik Gustafson, has a prominent role in the writing, reinforcing the industrial/rock approach. But Grendel also remains electro-driven, which is an aspect that comes mainly through in the melodic side of the album. Another important aspect is the production of the vocals. Jos Tucker’s way of singing is now clear and charismatic. Some songs remind me a bit of IAMX, and especially “Cloak & Dagger” brings this indie pop-rock element to life. If you’re more into electro, “Fire & Light” is for sure a song that will catch your attention for its retro-styled electronics.
+ + + : One thing is for sure, this album reveals a great professional job in the global production process. There’s a right balance between heavy guitar play and carrying electronic parts. The songs are accomplished, but still revealing diversity. Some of you are going to like the somewhat more psychedelic-inspired “Brace The Storm” while others will prefer the indie approach at “Cloak & Dagger”. I like the old-school electronic sound treatments at “Fire & Light” while “Purpose” might be considered as the ultimate fusion between heavy guitar play and solid electro sequences while the vocals have been here produced with a robotic effect on top.
– – – : The album features only 10 songs, which is maybe a little regrettable; especially when you consider there’s an intro cut and an instrumental last song. But the main point that hurts me remains Grendel’s move from the dark-electro scene towards this industrial pop & rock style. There’s nothing with that, but it’s no longer the same project so should another band name not have been more appropriated? We all will have an opinion about it…
Conclusion: “Ascending The Abyss” confirms Grendel’s sonic transformation and even if it has nothing in common with the band’s electro-period, it probably is one of the best albums released by the band.
Best songs: “Fire & Light”, “Purpose”, “Bitter Tide”, “Cloak & Dagger”, “Caught In The Middle”.
Rate: (8½ ).