Grip Inc.

Incorporated

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For their fourth album, Grip Inc. has solidified into a terrifically cold and destructive metal machine. While a lot of underground acts in the early 2000s strived to emulate the increasingly popular medieval torture devices (so to speak) of Scandinavia's finest, Incorporated is thoroughly modern, an impressively clinical and precise record, fully industrialized and loaded with razor-sharp riffs, ballsy vocals, and thunder drums. European producer and guitarist extraordinaire Waldemar Sorchyta is Grip Inc.'s main creative force, but on-again, off-again Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo gives the band a chilly technical edge that is uniquely the product of the mind-bogglingly influential skinsman. Add in vocalist Gus Chambers' powerful, full-bodied vocals -- refreshingly, there are no affected death growls here, just a deep well of a throat that refuses to shy away from a thick melody -- and Incorporated successfully bucks many of metal's genre-specific trends (i.e., mindless death metal brutality, mosh-happy retro-thrash, grating black metal scrapes, boneheaded hardcore grunt'n'shoves). The album is simultaneously mechanistic and tribal, at times flavored with Middle Eastern melodies and electronic flourishes, Sorchyta's steamroller mix blotting out the sun and meshing perfectly with compellingly twisty arrangements. The guitarist's artery-bursting riffs churn, bubble, and boil during precision speedsters "Curse (Of the Cloth)" and "Endowment of Apathy," while midtempo march "(Built To) Resist" spotlights Lombardo's in-the-pocket prowess (he inarguably has the best feet in metal) while piling on, fugue-like, a vaguely sinister string arrangement and dense melodic layers, eventually building to a mountainous, weighty climax. Point being, Incorporated is a collection of top-flight riffs smartly choreographed into 11 spot-on tunes highlighted by performances brimming over with personality (although Lombardo reins in the experimentalism of weirdo Mike Patton project Fant├┤mas and his solo work) and chops to spare. It's another impressive effort -- like 1999's hopelessly overlooked Solidify -- for Grip Inc., whose increasingly impressive discography has been met with a collectively indifferent shrug from too many metal aficionados. Here's hoping Incorporated enlightens more to this well-seasoned, pseudo-supergroup collective, which seems disparate on paper, but truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

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