Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper – October 20, 2016 – The Chance Theater, Poughkeepsie, NYMonday, 24th October 2016
Journeying back to my youth, Grim Reaper were a staple of the 1980’s traditional metal scene, a group on the tail end of the world renowned NWOBHM movement. Originally disbanding in the late 1980’s, Beavis and Butthead kept the group’s presence kicking in the 90’s as the title cuts from all their records would receive the snickering judgement from those cartoon characters (turns out creator Mike Judge is a fan of the band). Fast forward to the last decade – thanks to the rise of nostalgia and the spreading of information through the internet, the demand is higher than ever for Steve Grimmett’s return to Grim Reaper. Given the blessing to carry on with the name from original guitarist Nick Bowcott (he appears occasionally live when possible, but work duties at Marshall amplifiers keep him rather busy), Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper is back on a two-month tour of North America in support of their fourth studio record Walking in the Shadows – which took me to my second metal home away from home The Chance Theater on a Thursday evening.
Doors would open at 7 pm and apprehension set in regarding the turnout from the locals… there was plenty of room to roam free, as most of the attendees for the first band In Memorium seemed to be family members and friends who felt content to sit in chairs and watch their half-hour set in comfort. A four-piece act, these teens prefer to keep everything instrumental in terms of the songwriting for the time being – developing a sound that straddled modern power groove with traditional inflections. They blazed through their set so quickly, one of the guitarists started packing away his guitar until the stage hand mentioned they had 5 more minutes… which meant they could do another song. Probably still working out the bugs of being on stage, we’ll see how things develop down the road.
Hellride 102 hit the stage next. An interesting quartet for sure – the bassist looks like he belonged in a 90’s alternative nu-metal band, while the singer has a great range in a southern rock meets groove metal swagger. The band themselves sounded like a mix of Clutch and White Zombie – nothing overall complicated but getting the job done. The growing number of attendees approved, closing in on triple digits. Talon from Woodstock, NY blew me away – it shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that the band originally hit the scene in the 1980’s, recorded some demos… then broke up in the late 90’s, only to reform with the original members three years ago. Vocalist Bobby Weiss has a multi-octave power register that captivates – and the three other musicians that surround him are no slouches either. This is solid, old school power metal in the vein of Queensrÿche, Fifth Angel, Riot, and the much missed Hittman. Performing a number of selections from their forthcoming album The Hammer Will Fall, the title track and “On the Run” kept the crowd alive and buzzing. Throwing in a heavier rendition of the Soft Cell 80’s hit “Tainted Love” also worked. Be on the lookout for this group when they hit your area – one of the best upstate local NY bands I’ve heard to date.
By 9:50 pm, it was time for the headliners. Wasting no time getting down to business, Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper command the stage for 75 minutes plus, throwing out a solid set of metal anthems old and new. Promoting a new record, six songs would make the grade – of which the speedy “Temptation”, “From Hell”, and mid-tempo “Reach Out” (a tale regarding Steve’s battle to pain pill addiction) translated brilliantly on stage. Of course, the focal point would be on the 80’s catalog – pulling out numbers never aired live before like “Suck It and See” while also ripping into “Night of the Vampire”, “Lust for Freedom”, “Rock You to Hell”, “Fear no Evil”, and “Liar”. Steve’s self-deprecating stage patter introducing certain songs would be priceless as we learned about his failed marriages, lesbians in movies, and who has bought records in the audience versus saying they ‘own’ the record these days. Drummer Paul White throws around a lot of stick handling tricks as he pounds the kit for all it’s worth – and guitarist Ian Nash felt very comfortable ripping all the requisite power chords and licks old and new.
There was also a nice tribute to one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time who passed away in 2010, Ronnie James Dio, as the band played “Don’t Talk to Strangers”. Leaving the stage for an encore, everyone knew what the final song would be for “See You in Hell” – the 150-strong shouting out the lyrics as a call to arms for the debut album that put the band on the map back in 1983. We would all depart dripping in sweat, clapping our hands, and thankful that a little piece of metal history came back to life again tonight.