Gloomy Grim – The Age Of Aquarius album review

Symphonic Finns still make some twists in the template with their new album, reviewed here.

Gloomy Grim, The Age Of Aquarius album cover

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Although their musical histories stretch back to Finland’s 80s thrash scene, via cult eccentrics like Thy Serpent, Barathrum and Twilight Ophera, Gloomy Grim have been the crazy uncle in the attic of symphonic black metal since 1996, when they released a demo gamely entitled Fuck The World, Kill The Jehova! It was the earliest glimpse of GG’s arch sense of mischief, which remains intact on this sixth album, and their first since 2008.

Like the cheesy 80s horror movies they audibly love, there’s a fine line trodden between gauche ghost-train cliché and self-parodic audacity.

Opener The Rise Of The Great Beast unfurls with a variety of tempos, from sluggish trudge to imperial march via frenzied blastbeats, vocals alternating between the deathly gargles and black shrieks of founding frontman Agathon. Although GG’s backbone is orthodox, 90s-style BM with synths, there are dozens of quirky musical moments sprinkled throughout: Spanish guitar solos in A Lady In White, Beyond The Hate’s smooth bluesy mid-section, and a structural restlessness that mitigates against the slight over-familiarity of their well-worn MO.

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.