Casualty of the Psychic Wars

I love surprises. Not the  “oh, you are putting that where?” surprises, but musical surprises where you get an out of the blue email from a completely unheard of band asking for a review (meaning our  little site is growing)  and that subsequent release ends up being pretty damn awesome. Such is the case with Grue and their second release (the first being a 2012 self released split with Word of Unmaking) , Casualty of the Psychic Wars,  which  is either a long EP of a short full length (35 minutes or so) depending on how you look at it. But either way, it’s pretty damn good.

Grue (a possible Jack Vance reference) is a young two piece from Boston, Massachusetts comprised of Barghast (vocals/guitars- also in Word of Unmaking)) and Ghast (drums) and while would would rightfully expect a really badly produced, shrill, raw form of primal black metal based on the cover, logo, name etc, Grue is actually way more. Though still back metal with some atmospherics, it’s got a earthy, full production and more importantly its absolutely chock full of simply killer, perfect blackened, melodic riffs. These are some of the best black metal riffs I have heard in some time delivering best epic but searing harmonies this side of Woods of Desolation or Spectral Lore. The only thing keeping this release back a little is that the duo isn’t little unsure/inexperienced on how to wield these mighty riffs fully either ending a few bars too soon with sudden tempo shifts, or putting a little too much random, atmospheric filler in there, breaking up the amazing moments.

The title track bursts out of the gate and at around the 1:15 mark really grab your attention with a killer transition and melodic riff which rises again around the 2:30 mark and they are both truly gripping riffs, and the duo ends the track with a nice epic tremolo picked march and blast. There is a seamless transition into “Calling Down the Stars” a similarly paced and rousing number  and around 1:10 it simply explodes with vicious grandeur. The release then stumbles a bit with the middle part of the 5 tracks, “Lament of the Spheres” is a warbling,  atmospheric, 5 minute instrumental featuring a mouth harp that transitions into “In the House of Nemesis”  which starts as  moody slow, also instrumental number, before eventually exploding in some killer riffage.

Both tracks almost derail the intensity of momentum, but  “In the House of Nemesis” makes a nice comeback, and then the final track, the 14 minute “They Who Walk Behind the Skies” really cements the release with a plethora of simply glorious melodic  riffs and and time changes worthy of any big time black metal act. I mean the change/riff at 8:16 is utterly brilliant,  I only wish it lasted longer, or segued into a blast beat with the same riff, but that’s me being picky against a young duo, and there is a pretty damn fine blast beat shortly there after anyways. Either way, it’s one of the best songs of this young year (even though this was released late in 2013) and shows ALOT of promise from this duo if they can keep it up with the superb riff writing.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 3rd, 2014


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    based on the album title I expected this to involve at least some Blue Oyster Cult worship (the song “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”), but nope, this is just some kickass bm. Good find!

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