Clearly, we love it extreme here at Decibel, and we get particularly excited when we get to induct something extremely extreme into our Hall of Fame. Such was the case in our May 2018 issue, when we took sludge OGs Grief‘s 1994 debut, Come to Grief, and put it in our hall.
Of course, the hall collapsed under Come to Grief’s weight and we had to do some seismic retrofitting to make sure it could handle the album’s intense oppression, end-of-all atmosphere, and earth-crushing riffs. Oh, man: the riffs.
Join us today as we boldly journey through the album, attempting to distinguish song from song as we rank them from worst to best in honor of the sludge masterpiece.
Grab a copy of the issue here to read the in-depth feature about the making of the album, and read on for a further analysis of one of the heaviest albums of all time, one we’re humbled to have in our Hall of Fame.
“Stricken” had cards stacked against it from the beginning, being placed as track 7 of 8 on an album filled entirely with massive, difficult, draining songs. I mean, the end is in sight, but you’re still being pummelled by an endless stream of (excellent) sludge and (perfect) doom riffs. It ain’t easy, but it’s beautiful misery.
7. Fed Up
“Ruined” bleeds into “Fed Up,” which bleeds into every aspect of your goddamn bad mood as Grief enter the album’s final third, well, much as they’ve played it through the first two-thirds; it’s not like they suddenly sound like Dream Theater here. They sound like Grief, playing crushing sludge played at inhumanly slow speeds. It gets hard to tell after a while, but “Fed Up” might be one of the slowest songs on the album, and for that, we salute it.
I always like it when I’m listening to a Grief record and after sitting through a few 10-minute tracks I see a shorter one on the horizon. It’s a bit of hope in what is generally a very dreary—but wholly awesome—way to spend an hour or so. So it goes with “Ruined,” song five of eight on Come to Grief. The track clocks in at a brief 4:25, the shortest on the album and basically approaching novelty-song territory for Grief, although “Ruined” is no joke, the band hitting hard, low and slow for a sludge/doom beast that, sure, runs together with a lot of the rest on here, but has the radio-single factor going for it with that length.
5. I Hate You
Congratulations, you made it four songs into Come to Grief; that’s a task generally only undertaken by the most serious of sludge explorers, the most depressed of basement dwellers, the bravest of us all. And you’re rewarded with this, a song that’s almost memorable with its great sludge riffs and dense but oddly invigorating atmosphere. Kinda perks you up a bit.
4. Come to Grief
That’s how you close a record: with eight-plus minutes of feedback-soaked sludge that would freak Eyehategod out, kinda named after your band because you can do that when you sound like this. “Come to Grief” goes slow, rolls confident, and picks up the pace a bit for that rare Grief burst of energy (see also: “World of Hurt”). But mainly it just closes the proceedings as it should, by delivering what the band has been delivering for the previous… feels like three hours but is more like 46 minutes, “Come to Grief” the punishing closing to a punishing record.
3. Hate Grows Stronger
The beauty of a record like this, and the fun in doing a story like this, is that Grief don’t so much play songs as they play massive, unmoving pieces of misery. “Hate Grows Stronger” is a particularly miserable piece of misery, the song’s main riff one of simplistic beauty, of pure agony, Grief on grief, this song 8:23 of total oppressive tar.
2. World of Hurt
Get a load of that opening riff, Grief laying down a killer sludge/doom vibe with what is one of the most air-guitarable riffs in their catalogue (okay, fine, one of the only, if we’re being picky). Plus, at a mere 5:02, this song actually feels manageable, feels like I can compartmentalize and cope with it as music, compared to the first two tracks on the album, which are music in theory but in practice more like total mental agony. (In a good way.) Plus, when they pick it up at 4:17, they bust into one of those rare “fast” Grief parts, which rock hard like Sabbath at their best, Grief approximating what the humans call a good time in the final 40-odd seconds of this destroyer.
As far as huge, 10-minute doom/sludge downerfests that open albums go, “Earthworm” is pretty untouchable, Grief making it clear right from square one here that this is not going to be a fun record to listen to in any way. Man, this song just goes on and on, until it’s not even a song, it’s just punishment. By the time the eight-minute mark hits, nothing is real anymore, there is no pleasure or pain, just sludge, just extremity. And you’ve still got to sit through the rest of the record, you poor bastard. And, again: these are all good things, because in the land of Grief, pain is pleasure, and there’s nothing more wonderfully painful than Come to Grief.