Grimskunk


Grimskunk

Grimskunk - Grimskunk ©1994 Skunk Recordings/Cargo
1. Silverhead
2. In Eight Years
3. Don't Hide
4. Mother Of Creation
5. Martha
6. Bach In The Moors Of Mars
7. Look At Yourself
8. Watchful Elms
9. Autumn Flowers
10. Circle Square Triangle
11. Texas Cult Song
12. Le Dernier Jour
13. Rooftop Killer

Canada's ever-morphing Grimskunk has demonstrated that they're one oddball act to be reckoned with. Though my first introduction to them was with their current Fieldtrip, I recently came across this 1994 self-titled disc at a clearance sale and had the opportunity to hear their earlier work. Much denser and heavier, Grimskunk harkens partly back to a 70s prog rock feel in the vein of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep (who gets a nod in the cover of "Look at Yourself"). Producer Glen Robinson, who has also recorded Voivod among others, brought a lot of clarity forth in the mix, allowing for each instrument to contribute to the power of the music, rather than fight for airtime. But as a result, Grimskunk becomes a Crack Band, as in "Falling Between the.." The aggression and overall heaviness of the guitar sound puts them more towards a metal territory while the vocals suggest a bit of punk and the keyboards are obviously tinkling in an era two decades past. Grimskunk is not an immediate album, but songs do stand out. "Watchful Elms" sort of reminds me of Rush's "Trees", maybe due to subject matter. There is also the occasional reggae/ska feel on "Martha". In summation, Grimskunk is a bit overwhelming at first, but the band displays more than enough creativity and ability to eventually draw you into their very odd world.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Fieldtrip

Grimskunk - Fieldtrip ©1998 Indica
1. Mahmoud's Dream
2. Gotta Find A Way
3. Live For Today
4. Looking For Gabbio
5. Gros Tas D'marde
6. Meltdown
7. ¡Yo Basta!
8. Fox Hunt
9. La Pistolera
10. Dimming The Light
11. Lâ Vos Drapeaux
12. Oh My God
13. Ska-se (Shut Up!)

Within mere minutes of first playing this mysterious, dark CD from Grimskunk - a band of which I knew nothing - the word "RAD!" was uttered within the confines of my car. Grimskunk, quite frankly, is like everything you have ever heard and nothing you've heard at all. The first track "Mahmoud's Dream" starts out like a Dead Can Dance song, complete with mideastern sitar and sound. Before you know it, a heavy ripping guitar cuts in and the band rocks like no one's business. The next song "Gotta Find a Way" is a rampaging song that encapsulates and surpasses anything pop punk ever wanted to be. Besides, there's something terribly cool about Deep Purple styled keyboards in pop punk music. By the third song, the band has thrown yet another curve ball at you. "Live for Today" begins as a very peppy, aggressive song underscored by the cool proggy keyboard and just a driving riff that redefines "smoking". And then they segue smartly into a smooth trad ska section with stylish melodies. Though this might insinuate they are following the trends of the moment, it is done so competently and with such vigor that it does not come off as a cheap cash in. Besides, it rocks. "Looking for Gabbio" employs a nice dub feel with a narration. "Gros tas d'marde" has some very new wave 80's keyboard and again more aggressive rhythms and punch. From this point on things just get weird. The usage of various languages is quite unique as well as the Spanish mariachi/flemenco bit in "Yo basta!" and "Dimming the Light" is directly out of the space ambient dub book Twilight Circus. With all these wild influences, disparate styles and complete nuttiness flying about in all directions, you think the result would be a custer-plucked maelstrom of annoyance, but this is easily one of the most amazing records I've heard in ages - one that reminds me why I listen to music in the first place. Like Faith No More's genre-busting The Real Thing a decade ago, Fieldtrip is immediately recommended to anyone and everyone with even the slightest edge of adventure within. I knew Canada had some wackiness and original music via Voivod and Nomeansno, so Grimskunk is furthering that belief.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/1999

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EP 2000

Grimskunk - EP 2000 ©2000 Indica
1. Check-mo Ben Aller (bring Me Down)
2. Misfit
3. Right On (rock'n'roll Dream)
4. My Girlfriend

Oh, now this is just a mean teaser of an EP. The cleverly titled EP 2000 is a limited edition released designed to whet the appetites of Grimskunk fans every for the upcoming full length. At eleven minutes and featuring four more great songs, the EP does indeed rile me up and may very well force a pilgrimage up to Montreal to demand the Grimskunk tribe get a new full length out as soon as possible.

For those who know how to scroll up, you might recall my enthusiasm for their last full length, 1998's brilliant Fieldtrip, one of the most remarkably inventive and exciting releases in years. EP 2000 continues displaying the band's tendency to genre hop with utter ease and grace. The opening track, "Check-mo ben aller (bring me down)", is a reggae tinged number that is sure to entice your booty to groove while guest singer Ronee duets with Joe Evil, alternating between French and English. "Misfit" is a flashback to their earlier, heavier years while "Right On (Rock'n'Roll Dream)" is rollicking ska-punk number complete with a horns section and certain to give Less Than Jake a run for their money. "My Girlfriend" is the lone lesser number on the record and it's not exactly bad either. The cumulative result of this little EP is that I'm darned near frothing at the mouth for a new, full-length release from them. If you can find this EP, snag it immediately.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2001

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Seventh Wave

Grimskunk - Seventh Wave ©2002 Indica
1. Leash On Me
2. Seventh Wave
3. Comatose
4. Headgames
5. Free
6. Peace Of Mind
7. Shallow
8. Superheroes Never Die
9. Failed Again
10. Victim Of Maturity
11. Girlfriend
12. Judgement Day

In 1999, Grimskunk released one of the most thoroughly enjoyable records that I've ever heard with Fieldtrip. The CD covered more ground than Black Flag's touring van in 1984 and in the process, entirely surpassed the likes of Offspring, Less Than Jake and countless other poppy punk bands with the occasional ska edge. Within two or three songs, Grimskunk managed to encapsulate and ultimately outdo every band attempting the styles. Since then, Grimskunk has released an EP, re-recorded some songs from their original teenage band, Fatal Illness, and have finally gotten around to recording a followup to Fieldtrip. Seventh Wave is by no means the masterpiece of Fieldtrip, but the reality is that few bands will ever match up to their defining moment and as a result, comparisons between albums should be dropped with any further ado.

Seventh Wave marks a bit of a return towards the older style of Grimskunk, a slightly metallized hard rock that emphasizes powerful songs matched with memorable vocal melodies and the ability to hook a listener within the course of any given song. What Grimskunk shows with this new album is that every album they release is a document of a time period, rather than attempting to improve upon a narrow formula. Seventh Wave finds them working in an area that rivals the rhymthmic sense of some of the current Feigned Angst of popular nu-metal bands while offering the timeless Grimskunk spirit. Unlike Fieldtrip, Seventh Wave doesn't blend a wide variety of languages, styles and genres. However, the consistency between songs is extremely impressive and unlike the band's earlier records, every song here has merits for recommendation.

Although not the jawdropping, highly amped fun of Fieldtrip, Seventh Wave offers a bit darker edge to the band and should be the natural alternative to whatever pseudo-angry band you were thinking of getting instead. Each listen to this album has found me enjoying it more and more and has become yet another great Grimskunk release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2002

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