Company: Burning Star Records Release: 2007 Reviewer: EC Genre: Traditional
Much faster than the old, running through ten solid cuts of traditional fare
Norway's Griffin has really gone through some changes throughout their career. To bring you up to speed on the band changes you may need a pencil with eraser as well as several scraps of paper. The band was formed by guitarist Kai Nergaard and bassist Johnny Wangberg and released their first album in 2000, "Wasteland Serenades", for Seasons Of Mist Records. At the time the vocalist was Tommy Sebastian Halseth (Godsend), who also contributed his voice to the group's sophomore release, "The Sideshow", also on Seasons Of Mist. 2004 is when yours truly rallied behind the band, with new singer Peter Beck joining the act with his stirring vocals recalling Phil Lynot. The band's third release was "No Holds Barred" followed by the 2005 album "Lifeforce", both released on Norway's Facefront Records. These two albums are by far the best Griffin records to date and featured along with new singer Beck guitarist Marcus Silver and drummer Marius Karlsen. In 2005 Peter Beck learned that he had a severe illness and was no longer able to continue with the band. For some reason or another both Silver and Karlsen left the band around this time as well. Now Griffin is like a brand new band, combining new members Roar Naustvoll (guitar), Alessandro Elide (drums), and Rolf Bakken (vocals) with the original two members.
Like "Lifeforce" this new album is also produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRoqcue, adding a very polished spin to this classic metal sound. For the most part this new Griffin is much faster than the old, running through ten solid cuts of traditional fare and running up a tab of sparkling leads from 18 year old virtuoso Naustvoll. Listens to songs like "The Ultimate Demise" and "Here Comes The Pain" recalls the early sonic assault of Overkill with chugging machine-gun fire riffs and Bakken's real clean delivery. The really great thing about "Lifeforce" was the amount of hard rock elements and it is great to see the band still living with that. "Legends Live Forever" and "Restless Dreams" are arena rock soaked, sounding like White Lion crossed with George Lynch's axe-work with Dokken. Classic metalheads will find substance with the Rainbow-like "Crown Of Thorns". I personally like Bakken's voice and he reminds me of Jorn Lande at times, especially on "Angel" which really sounds a bit like Masterplan.
Overall this is really a quality outing from the rejuvenated band. "The Ultimate Demise" isn't quite up to par with personal favorite "No Holds Barred" but time should be a valuable asset to this band as they grow together.