Grinning Shadows - The New Curse

Grinning Shadows began their career in 2003 from Italy as a gothic metal band. They mostly employ the standard female clean/ male growl/ throaty clean vocal contrast while relying on slow, doomy riffs mixed with plenty of melancholy and melody. Their latest EP uses clean production, lots of keyboard passages, and heavily relies on the female vocals over both the male ones. Think of it more along the lines of Sirenia and Tristania, but a bit more haunting. While the latter is more symphonic, Grinning Shadows focuses their work on a darker atmosphere with a mix of heaviness.

For some reason, though, this album feels too short (well, it is an EP...) and the energy just isn't there entirely. The music is a mix of piano passages such as on "Missing" and aggressive metal driven riffs on tracks such as "If," but it seems a bit stale and repetitive. The softer passages are definitely beautiful, but also generic and typical. Mostly it is the vocals that sound bored and tired. The clean female vocals are not annoyingly high, but she sounds as if she's being forced to sing the lyrics at gunpoint. The male growls also feel forced, or so studio influenced that there's an apathetic tone to them. The male cleans, as throaty as they are, carry the raw passion of the music, but don't appear enough. "Dirge" is perhaps the best track on the album because it is the most musically varied (sounds like there's some violin in the mix) and the layered male and female vocals really give more dynamic to the music overall compared to the rest of the tracks. It's definitely a gothic opera there.

This EP is not their best work, but also not a bad introduction for fans. The direction is certainly right along with their other albums; so far they only have two out. The production is top notch with the vocals right in the front with the music acting as a great backdrop to support the lyrics. Fans of Graveworm, Diabolus In Musica, or gothic doom in general will find this appealing if they are new to the group. Their previous album, Stains Of Sin, is possibly a better introduction to the band for its romanticised elements as opposed to the more grim outlook of this EP that is conveyed so harmonically.

  1. The New Curse
  2. If
  3. Dirge
  4. Missing
  5. Scars Of Remembrance

Nadir Music
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Oct 4, 2010

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