Bliss comes in various designs, beauty and harmony often escorting it but for us right now it is found in the vision of a cold, desolate graveyard hosting a moss gilded dance-floor thick in rotting corpses slamming and moshing to the ravenous, violating sounds of Grim Reaper Ride. The French hell rockers feed that vision and feeling through their debut album Hellbilly Back to Underground, a slab of senses decaying, infernal goodness which unites the dead and living in one voracious stomp.
Grim Reaper Ride is the creation of former Trepalium frontman Cédric (KK) Punda and festers in ears through a line-up completed by guitarists Fabien Trichet and Nicolas Hoareau, drummer Clément Genty, and double bassist Renaud Guillemet. The band creates their hellbilly sound through the embrace of the most insidious and tempting essences of psychobilly, punk, rockabilly, blues and metal. As that suggests it is a richly flavoured trespass, the kind of incitement you fear welcoming but cannot resist as it gnaws and violates through toxin laden grooves and cadaver bearing rock ‘n’ roll; something akin to a corruption brewed in the defiled union of The Hangmen, Grumpynators, Demented Are Go, and Transport League.
Hellbilly Back to Underground presents eleven slices of creative purgatory, each track rising from the final dank breath of its predecessor once Fuck This Day breaks the ground. The opener erupts from a tortured soul, menacingly stalking the listener with its rhythmic rapacity before bursting into a flesh harrying stroll. As the guitars flay air with their incendiary riffs the hungry beats of Genty flail the senses, within their combined persistence the immediately irresistible slaps of Guillemet upon his upright commands attention and temptation. It is a song and sound which trapped pleasure from every angle, the grizzled tones of KK just as compelling.
With its helly swing a lingering incitement, the outstanding start expands as the following pair of Dig Deeper and Grave Motherfucker Digger bear their voracious corpses through claggy soil, the first as deviously contagious as the first with groove wound wires wrapping ears as rhythms infest and manipulate. Predacious in breath and deed, the track had us lurching around like a filth clad puppet before its successor dug deeper into the psyche and passions, blues soaked scythes of guitar and increasingly threatening rhythms magnetically colouring its flesh robbing antics.
The underlying sample woven tale continues as one addictive encounter evolves into another and the trenchant shuffle of Hell’s Boogie Life. As in a host of aspects, death and groove metal hues invade the instinctive psycho and motorbilly inclinations of the track, yet its old school rock ‘n’ roll heart bears the richest intoxication while Write with Ground whilst similarly revelling in rockabilly instincts taints it with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers-esque off kilter spicery. It too is a voracious protagonist; infection, temptation, and enmity equally soaking its addictive arousing.
Grim Reaper Ride, the song is next, another leading the body around like an animated corpse as its ghastly magnificence springs rhythmic control and sonic rapacity upon the senses , a just as eager imagination consumed by the seductive throes of the upright bass and KK‘s vocal road ripping causticity.
Grave stones and mausoleum walls continue to shake with the listener as Rock n Roll on Graves romps through ears, the song, as all within the release, a kinetic infestation orchestrating body and passions alike as again rockabilly, punk and metal collude in tenacious blasphemy and there is no let up as Wink of Deaths scowls and pesters straight after. Riffs and rhythms swarm as grooves and vocal toxicity entangles, the track backwater brewed addiction escalated by the fire in the guitars amidst the intoxicating glaze of harmonica.
Through the invasively contagious if predacious saunter of One for Hole and the irresistibly nagging Hadean stroll of its title track, Hellbilly Back to Underground had us deeper in its exanimate realm and debasing glory. Both tracks again relish the fertility in the band’s multifarious breeding of sound, and each left us ravenous for more which album closing Funeral is Rock’n’Roll eagerly provided. From its sombre funereal gait to its rabid onslaught, the track had us ravenously devouring its flesh stripping celebration.
Grim Reaper Ride has not so much merged styles as brought a fresh monster to life from the fusion of rock’s richest putrescent essences, the result one mercilessly addictive corruption and album which hounds our every waking moment.
Hellbilly Back to Underground is out now via Wormholedeath Records across most stores.
Pete RingMaster 09/11/2020