Review – Grizzlyman: Grizzlyman (2016 Reissue)

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  • Bio: "From the beginning, this project has been about personal development and the creative process of making something musical and emotional." - Facebook
  • Label: Ljudkassett! / Third I Rex (2016)
  • Release Date: April 25th, 2014 / October 16th, 2016
  • Genre: Progressive Sludge Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Sweden’s Grizzlyman is a three-piece progressive sludge act that features ex-12 Gauge Dead‘s Joel Ekman on bass and vocal duties, as well as ex-Athory Emic‘s Emanuel Enbäre on drums, rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Christopher Davis. The band came together in 2013, and about a year later issued their self-titled three song demo cassette through Ljudkassett! Records as a limited run of two hundred copies. Since then, the group remains active with the label, but has not issued anything new since. For 2016, Third I Rex picked up the Grizzlyman demo for further distribution through digital means, as well as a physical digipack once again in limited quantities. But was this something worth reissuing, or is it better left buried?

For only being three tracks, this demo does a good job of offering the listener plenty of variety in such a hostile outing, something many demos of today seem to lack. Grizzlyman takes the opportunity to show off their diversity within the sludge field and still maintain a steady flow from one track to the next, all the while building the tension as things continue to grow darker and more unforgiving than you’d initially expect. If you ever heard Leviathan by Mastodon, you’ll have a good idea of the dynamics involved. In fact, upon listening to this recording, you won’t be able to shake the feeling of that album. This isn’t to say its plagiarism or anything of the sort, but rather a level of familiarity.

“Adrift” opens things up with a less-than-threatening bass-heavy traditional sludge groove Red Fang would utilize. This infectious start slowly tightens to reveal a far more aggressive side with a sandpapery shouting style complimented by a slight echo, deeper riffs, solid drum presence, not to mention additional hair-raising gutturals. About half-way in, there’s a nautical hint to the creeping Novembers Doom pacing, offering a reprieve and suiting jam-style solo before returning to the despairaging turbulence once more. This leads to the lighter instrumental track “Last King”, which has a mysterious atmosphere that carries bouts of forboding lashings. But once you depart for the high seas, you’re greeted with the most abrasive, bass-fueled hatred the band can muster, more so than what the opening track can offer. Hard hitting riff and drum pattern after another, complimented with that growling vocal approach, ushers in the storm as you’re left stranded in the middle of the ocean with no hope of survival.

GrizzlymanLike it’s namesake, Grizzlyman is not something for the kind spirited. The band take you by the hand with delusions of grandeaur before leading you to sink to the deepest depths of the oceanic floor with their brand of remorseless sludge. In just under sixteen minutes, this trio establishes what they are all about, leaving you with a desire to hear more. Hopefully with Third I Rex having picked up this demo as a reissue it means there are signs of life within the Grizzlyman camp and a new album due upon us soon. Until then, there’s always their self-titled demo to be ravaged by, which is something any fans of the genre or those who just miss early Mastodon will immeiately grab hold of.

GrizzlymanDigital review copy of this release provided by Third I Rex.