GRENADIER – Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory (2022)REVIEW

A reasonable, if not remarkably generative glinting of unmistakable facsimilia. — Mount Pearl, Newfoundland-based quintet Grenadier formed in 2018 between at least one member of power metal band Cyprian who’d been joined by folks from heavy metal troupe Emblem (an ex-member of thrashers Allagash) by the end of the next year, and finally in 2020 they were joined by the vocalist from raw black metal act Nocturnal Prayer. That is the bulk of what I can gather from a couple unconfirmed internet sources, consider that speculative and imprecise reaching for any sort of information sans any confirmation. Despite being void of context their collective love for speed metal, epic heavy metal, death metal and black metal were strikingly evident on the ensuing promotional demo tape (‘The Levant Sultanate‘, 2021) but of course conveyed their spiritus entirely through the triumphal, decidedly North American branded melodic death metal medium. The drum sound was slightly different on that demo but otherwise the two song EP had been a very direct preview of what to expect from ‘Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory‘ and should offer no maniac surprises beyond a clunkier bass drum sound (which’d added to the first impression) and a warmer, black metal capable yet melodic death attuned guitar tone.

In terms of contextualizing Grenadier‘s craft there’ll be little in the way of dancing around the entirely obvious influence from Arghoslent found in every aspect of the release from their name, the graphic design/layout of the release, as well as their production sound, guitar tone and melodic heavy/speed metal influenced riffcraft. If you are not familiar with that band due to their lyrical content I’d suggest you’ve missed out on one of the best melodic death metal bands, ever, sound and decidedly classic heavy metal approach to songcraft so finely crafted that it hasn’t found capable successor to date outside of reigning champs House of Atreus. It’d be fair to say that these folks are a band likewise influenced by Arghoslent that’ve taken the time to understand what made that band tick and put themselves to work supplementing their own nowadays traditional heavy (and black metal) influences into a faithful enough recreation of that heavy metal inspired melodic death metal sound.

That said, ‘Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory‘ is admittedly a bit too polished, exuding a laid back home studio atmosphere without as many rough ‘live’ feeling edges and desperately jammed takes compared to their stiff-necked and sweating galaxy-brained muse. Their heavy metal influences lean towards ‘epic’ spheres rather than cutting into the ballsier tramping realms of thrashing heavy metal and as such Grenadier‘s tirades of riff are often quite ‘pretty’ and neatly arranged without the shot-from-the-hip 80’s United States power/speed metal assisted vaunting of records like ‘Incorrigible Bigotry‘. As tightly as their riffcraft resembles a very small handful of predecessors (and I would say to the point that it becomes a bit plagiaristic on a few songs) we’re ultimately forced to focus on what is decidedly different from the cloned rhythmic voice of their heroes and… that’ll bring us face-to-face with traditional heavy metal and black metal influences which disappoint in most cases, interrupting the action and the familiarly charging bierhäusen speed metal beatings otherwise.

“Storm Attrition” is the first offender around ~36 seconds in, pushing a sparkly-darkly goth metal harmony into the moment which lightly presages the development/progression of the main riff beyond. An ominous yet interesting choice of transition as it is captivating in the moment but seems a bit out of place ’til the second guitar’s role becomes more clear in the mix. The main riff has precedence on ‘Hornets of the Pogrom‘ while sustaining the Randy Rhodes-esque lilt and classic rock infused swing of the major chorale/revelatory verse where things do eventually turn a bit power metal camp in summary fanfare. These are very subtle tics and will likely read as insignificant details to start but they eventually build into a nonsensical, grey glue meant to bind together various larger riff ideas. The cadence becomes even more odd on “Commending the Imperial” as we crack open the rift beyond the first minute, a folkish black metal wrangle of upswinging riff which reads a bit closer to something like Blood Libel (via Svolder‘s main actor) before the triumphal main riff begins to make its gib known. It is one of the better pieces on the album because it momentarily escapes the tunnel vision’d worship and more clearly resembles a piece directly influenced by the ‘elitist hate music’ that’d cropped up during and beyond their main influence’s extended hiatus. The only disappointing part is that the lead at the end goes off without a hitch, another missed chance for wobbly dive-bombing messing about to loosen the experience up a bit.

“The Napoleonic Code” is the only disappointing piece on the full listen for my taste as a few if its main riffs prior to the ~two minute mark resemble the trashy hair metal twiddling of nowadays NWOTHM rhythmic diarrhea and only sound all the more cloying next to the Thin Lizzy dripping movement which muscles around the track beyond in ‘epic’ fanfare. Where I’d felt like Grenadier had gotten their latent black metal fingers detangled and in proper form was largely quarantined within the late album title track, leave it to a band named after “Grenadier” to push their best work to the end of their record, eh. “Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory” hits upon what I’d consider a few valiant strides of Scandinavian melodic black/death metal which in this instance take place as an extended melodic are in place of the chorus and repeated about twice within each instance starting ~1:08 minutes in and finding a variation on a theme later on. This isn’t the part that’d shocked me, though, as it represents what Grenadier can do when interpreting rather than tracing Arghoslent‘s best lines. The end of the song in question is one of just a few points where I felt a bit of disgust for the sheer intrusion it’d represent, the ~5:07 minute mark hits upon a kind of foul, corny atmospheric black metal cliché. At this point the interrupting black metal vignette becomes less of a surprise on “Plight of Naath” as it swallows the entire middle of the song with a sentimental yet out of place before we make a full charge out of the album.

These “experimental” choices read as yanks at the artist’s itching mask, wherein the intention to sound like a modern expansion of someone else’s construct carries the album well enough but becomes a bit ticklish for the artist as they insert a few minutes of various dalliance to keep the mood entertaining. Their strict adherence to worship otherwise offers little rope to pull out of the driving, bopping hard-charging melodic death metal sound and these black metal insertions tend to lend just enough of a distraction to suggest Grenadier‘d intended to construct an additive work to a larger legacy rather than avoid an entirely plagiaristic slog. It ultimately works for the sake of how memorable these songs end up being and not for any of the twinkling distractions offered nonetheless. In fact I have to ultimately concede any real biting criticisms of this group’s guitar compositions for the sake of this style of melodic death metal being rarified enough that I know better than to brush it off in a dismissive way, these riffs will last and do bear repeating ad infinitum even if they are in the image of works yet unsurpassed. Simply put, if you love this unmistakable type of melodic death metal there’ll be few and far-between chances for respite elsewhere, you’d just as well jump on board and treat ‘Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory‘ as an oasis stoked (more than competently, I’d say) for the sake of worshipping someone else’s ire in a respectable fashion. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Trumpets Blare in Blazing Glory
LABEL(S):Drakkar Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 8th, 2022

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