Review: Soul Grip – Not Ever
What do you get when Belgian hardcore musicians decide to delve into black metal? Some really tasty raw sad boi times, that’s what. Not Ever is Soul Grip’s sophomore release and while I’ve never heard the band before now, I will say this is a damn good album.
The opening track, “Ton Rêve,” begins with a guttural howl and jumps right into raw and driving emotional modern black metal before petering out with a defeated clean guitar section. As a seasoned veteran sad boi, I can say that this is top grade shit right here.
The sound Soul Grip achieves is oppressively heavy. With the exception of a few breaks for somber and introspective sections, the music is nearly always pounding forward, driving deeper into the ground. Where most other bands give voice to their grief through slow, somber compositions, Soul Grip has delved further into the frantic and angered side of hopelessness. “Grav I” showcases the sort of thing I’m talking about with its heavy-handed yet appealing repetition of a pounding and dissonant breakdown-esque strain about a minute and a half in, frenetic howls layered over the top. “Grav I” has an attacca transition into “Grav II” after leaning back a bit into a slightly more melodic mood. The second half of this duology of songs has a large introspective section with muted broken chords that sound like they might possibly be played on string piano. There’s a sudden surge of frantic energy again before moving onto the next track, “Grand,” which chugs along, again using the raw energy the band has developed for most of this album.
“Never Leave” is as somber and longing as the name implies, and even when things ramp up into the heavy section there’s still a sense of yearning underneath the music. Things aren’t collapsing you down with brunt force as much as before on the record.
Don’t worry, though, as the final track, “Fiend,” will finish the job of breaking you down. The song brings together a blended mix of both the somber and driving moods showcased on the record, rather than the separated approach seen before, and there’s a prominent use of sampled speech. At ten minutes, it’s a hell of an album closer, with a clean call-and-response section toward the end whose answer to the call of the first guitar to speak is an unexpectedly post-tonal melody that just feels so broken. The unexpected half step is unsteady, unsure of itself, and every repetition drives home that something here doesn’t belong, especially in response to the simple and completely tonal arpeggiation of minor chords. The song also features one of the few uses of a fadeout where I don’t feel like it’s a complete copout, static barging in on the band and growing louder against their fadeout until everything suddenly ends. There’s not supposed to be a resolution to a record like this.
I would highly, highly recommend Not Ever, especially during a time when there are perhaps quite a few of us who could use the cathartic rush of a record that gives voice to a frantic and unsteady sense of dread.
Four-and-a-half out of Five Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Not Ever is available now through Consouling Sounds.