Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don't get nearly enough love, stuff that's essential listening for students of extreme metal that you may not have ever heard of. Stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, we rise out of Satan's domain and through the primordial muck of Boston for Grief's Come to Grief (Century Media). Well before it became known for spawning the entire second stage roster of Ozzfest from 2003 to 2006, Boston gave birth to Disrupt, one of the less pleasant bands to bear the "dis-" prefix. Anarchist crust grind with an emphasis on the grinding grind, they put out a bunch of EP's and 7 inches and went through about a dozen bandmembers. Two of those members, Terry Savastano and Randy Odiern, apparently decided that they liked the noise terrorism but wanted to go the exact opposite direction in regards to speed, and so Grief was created in 1991.
Sludge metal certainly existed at the time -- Eyehategod and Crowbar had recently bubbled out of the ooze, and obviously the Melvins had been crawling around for a while -- but it wasn't the established, heavily-bearded scene it is today. The members of Grief brought their Massachusetts hardcore experience to the sound, and crafted an approach that testified to the accuracy of their name. After honing their mastery of misery over an EP and album, they hooked up with the fledgling Century Media (back when they were still casting about for an identity and wound up with weird stuff like Graveyard Rodeo and God Is LSD) for their defining moment, 1994's Come to Grief.
Over the course of 55 minutes, these Mass-holes drag the listener through a pit filled with syringes, gravel, and snail paced Black Sabbath riffs. Eric Harrison's cover art does the music as much justice as the band name, a hellscape made entirely out of agonized souls, demons, and drugs. Jeff Hayward practically chokes on his own vomit as he croaks out stories of poverty, abuse, and hate. The band occasionally stumbles upon a decent groove ("World of Hurt" especially), but for the most part it's a trawl through the darkside on a sea of feedback. None of the songs really stand out, and that's okay. After all, torture thrives on repetition. Even when it sounds like something's about to get off the ground, like the title track, it sinks back down into a morass of apathy and depression (an apt analogy for drug addiction). This is doom for true connoisseurs of suffering.
Unfortunately, despite the album's quality, nobody did in fact come to Grief. Even now that the style is in vogue, you rarely hear them mentioned along with the genre's other forefathers. It probably doesn't help that Come to Grief went out of print almost immediately (although it was reissued recently by Willowtip), and their distance from New Orleans prevented them from being part of that scene. Misery always loves company, though, so it's never too late to join their world of hurt.