I fucking love the promotional photos of The Grifted. I admit I’m influenced by the fact that they look closer to my generation than most current death metal bands, but it’s more than that. It’s that they are making a statement.
Surely the suit jackets, the vest, the shorn heads, and the setting are no accident. The gaze at the watch suggests they’re about to be late to some kind of professional meeting (and not with a tour promoter). It seems a way of saying (with a sense of humor), we have other lives, we’re not pandering to expectations but are more interested in confounding them, we know who we are even if you might not guess… and we’re quite happy to let our music speak for itself.
Well, you might not guess who they are, but once you know their connected histories it will come as no surprise that The Grifted‘s debut album Doomsday & Salvation is so damned good.
Those men you’re looking at (in no particular order) are Jörgen Thullberg, Stefan Lagergren, Staffan Skoglund, Jonas Ohlsson, and Jocke Lindström.
Thullberg and Lagergren joined up 35 years ago in the band Treblinka, who later became Tiamat. Thullberg and Ohlsson also much later teamed up in forming Mr. Death, later joined there by Lagergren, Skoglund, and Lindström, who had been with Thullberg in the lineup of a hardcore punk band named PhotoParade. Mr. Death carried on, but the band decided to change its name to The Grifted, and here we are.
So now you know… from an early age these gentlemen had Swedish death metal in their veins along with blood, and the tainted blood was never transfused away. It seems still to nourish them at some important level.
So, no surprise that The Grifted know what they’re doing. If there’s a surprise, it’s that Doomsday & Salvation is no by-the-numbers re-tread, even from people who helped lay down the numbers in the first place. Take, for example, the song we’re premiering today
The fundamentals are all there: A rhythm-guitar and bass tone that sounds like a battle tank that’s been rusting in the snow since the last world war, with an infusion of diesel and a new battery but not much lubricant. Drumming that drives like pistons, sounds like gunshots, and doesn’t forget the punk history. A monster voice that’s as capable of scorching as well as gnawing through bone. And a song about maggots.
But you’ll figure out right away, from the ecstatically darting brightness of the lead guitar and the start-stop blaring of the chords, that The Grifted are having a lot of fun in the midst of their rushing tank attach and the doses of pile-driving riffage they mete out.
As the song unfolds, the guitars follow ever-more mercurial and sinister paths, the vocals become even more unhinged, and you learn that there are more hooks in the music than a fishing trawler carries.
So yes, old school Swedish death metal plays a big role, but The Grifted don’t feel chained to those traditions. There’s something delightful and delirious about the song that makes it sound anything but stale.
That song is the second one to be revealed from the album so far. The first one was “Fractured“, which opens the album. Here, you should prepare for massive, hard-charging chainsaw riffs; bursts of churning sandstorm guitar-chaos; rabid screams that scald; wild soloing that spirals sky-high; and the propulsion of punkish beats — plus a dose of fast-chugging groove that will get your head bobbing even harder.
Doomsday & Salvation was recorded at Sunlight Studio, Studio Soundproof, and House by the Cemetery, with engineering by Tomas Skogsberg, Svante Nordström, and The Grifted. It was mixed by Stefan Brändström at the Dustward, and was mastered by Johan Gustafsson.
The album will be released internationally by Personal Records on April 7th (CD and digital). It’s up for pre-order now.