Goddess of fertility and riffs
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: September 30, 2016
Label: Fast Break! Records

Considering the stark shifts in sound and revolving door lineup, it’s kinda crazy Freya is not only still a going concern, but one that now shares a drummer with Megadeth. (That’d be ex-Soilwork drummer/confirmed metal band bigamist Dirk Verbeuren.) Formed amid the 2001 dissolution of Earth Crisis by three-fifths of the (then) final lineup of that straight-edge metallic hardcore powerhouse—vocalist Karl Buechner, bassist Ian “Bulldog” Edwards and guitarist Erick Edwards—the band’s 2003 debut, As the Light Drains, boasted dynamics not all that removed from early Cave In infused with burly Handsome-esque post-hardcore groove and a more pronounced emo-y sensibility. Cool conceptually though, alas, the album ultimately reads like dudes chafing against the shackles of legacy and defiantly striving to give irrational haters of the slightly polished ExC swansong Slither (2000) something to really bitch about. By the next year, however, Freya had jettisoned the guitarist who played octave chords and sang pretty en route to dropping ridiculously underappreciated art house brutality on the Hoods split then swerved into At-the-Gates-by-way-of-Madball territory for the occasionally inspired, frequently rote run of Lift the Curse (2007), All Hail the End (2010) and Paragon of the Crucible (2013).

Point being, it’s been a long, strange goddamn road to Grim—one Buechner alone has walked in its entirety—but here’s to the iconic vocalist for sticking it out ’cause he just made the purest heavy fucking metal record of his career—a gloriously intricate, unabashedly epic, soulful-yet-vicious affair far more Dio than Destroy the Machines. Anchored by Buechner’s inspired, multilayered, man-possessed performance, Grim feels like the gears finally stopped grinding; like Freya is finally no longer bound to serve as a proxy for all the things the now-reunited ExC would never be and just slay on its own terms. And slay it does.

— Shawn Macomber
This review taken from the November 2016 issue.

Check out more of the Best New Noise from our Spotify playlist, and follow the playlist to get monthly updates on the new tracks you need to be banging your head to: