When Boston doom-metal mavens Grief rose from the ashes of crust/punk band Disrupt in the early ’90s, even the band didn’t think they’d last as long as they did. Unknowingly, they helped to found sludge metal/doom alongside Crowbar, 13, Eyehategod, and Buzzov*en. After five critically acclaimed albums on various labels—including a one-off on Century Media and the bulk of their catalog on the late, great SoCal label Pessimiser-Theologian—the band finally called it quits in 2001. A year later, Southern Lord compiled Turbulent Times, a career-spanning collection of odds ‘n’ sods from the archives. Meanwhile, the mates had been serving time in other sludge/groove bands around Beantown such as Noosebomb, Superpower, and Warhorse, but the planets aligned and Grief decided to reunite in 2005, headlining the second day of the New England Grind & Doom Fest at the Middle East club in Cambridge, Mass. Southern Lord stepped in and released this concert as Alive in a limited edition of 2,000 copies.

This line-up—founding vocalist/guitarist Jeff Hayward, classic-era drummer Rick Johnson, longtime bassist and album cover artist Eric Harrison, and guitarist John Heidenrich—plows through seven standards: three each from ’94’s Come to Grief and ’96’s Miserably Ever After, and one gem from ’97’s Torso. The feedback throb begins with the excellent “One of Those Days,” followed by a beautifully dismal rendition of “Earthworm.” Fan favorite “World of Hurt” emphasizes the double-timed break, virtually the only tempo change on Come to Grief. Hayward ekes out a particularly incisive take of “I Hate the Human Race,” then wails on the solo break of “Polluted.” He dedicates “Ruined” to Mark of local grinders Magrudergrind (“He’s not here, but he’s fuckin’ ruined somewhere, that’s for sure” in his thick Yankee drawl) before bludgeoning the crowd into submission with monolithic riffs and growled vignettes of misery. The band ends the set with their faithful cover of Saint Vitus’ “Angry Man,” much to the dismay of fans yelling for chestnuts like “Rhinoceros,” “Falling Apart,” and “Green Vegetable Matter.”

Grief went on to play select shows throughout 2005-2006, after which they once again hung up the mantle of doom and went their separate ways. For those who never saw the band in the flesh, Alive is an exceptional tour document, the only live album in their decade-plus canon, and a rock-solid memento of an outfit that inspired droves of disciples.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Ayers
June 22nd, 2007


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