Led by the inspired guitar work of Nick Bowcott and the powerful lungs of Steve Grimmett, Grim Reaper's tough, raw, but melodically charged music embodied British heavy metal's most popular devices (and clichés) throughout the mid-'80s. The fact that Grim Reaper was capable of combining the above attributes so competently, yet truly excelled at none of them resulted in an exceedingly swift "rags to glory and back to rags" story, which somehow was as surprising as it was strangely fitting. Add to this a far from attractive visual aesthetic (i.e., they were four crusty English dudes with handlebar moustaches, bad hair, and even worse teeth) and it was clear Grim Reaper was doomed to enjoy a limited afterlife in the newly established MTV regime.
Guitarist Nick Bowcott founded Grim Reaper in Droitwich, England, circa 1979, working with a number of different lineups before teaming up with singer Paul DeMercade, bassist Phil Matthew, and drummer Angel Jacques in time to record his song "The Reaper" for 1981's very influential Heavy Metal Heroes compilation. Despite its brooding power chords and rough-hewn sonics (or perhaps because of them), the song stood out from the album's other New Wave of British Heavy Metal hopefuls and landed the group increased touring commitments up and down the U.K. club circuit. But by the time Grim Reaper finally landed a record deal with independent Ebony records a year later (on the strength of a three-song demo made with studio time won in a battle of the bands competition), Bowcott had scrapped the entire band once again and was now flanked by vocalist Steve Grimmett, bassist Dave Wanklin, and drummer Mark Simon.
Grim Reaper's debut, See You in Hell, was far more polished than the band's first single and initially seemed fated for historical oblivion, since European fans steeped in heavy metal history found little merit in the band's energetic but rather ordinary metal style. But to metal-starved American audiences, the album (which giant RCA released worldwide the following year) actually sounded somewhat fresh; at once accessible and aggressive, it went on to sell a quarter-of-a-million copies and reached a very respectable number 73 on the U.S. charts. Extensive touring stateside followed and the conservative media's unfounded allegations of Satanic worship due to Grim Reaper's sullen looks -- leather-bound wardrobe and sinister, demonic imagery -- almost had them feeling like bona fide rock stars by year's end. Once back home in England, the band needed only nine days to record 1985's sophomore Fear No Evil, which nearly matched its predecessor in terms of quality (and competent unoriginality), but nevertheless failed to replicate its commercial success. The band's fair-weather friends at RCA quickly lost interest and Grim Reaper's career suddenly stalled in America.
The band re-formed, without Bowcott, in 2009 for a series of live performances, eventually heading out on a full tour and appearing at numerous festivals. In 2013, they began laying down tracks for a new studio album, their first since 1987. The resulting Walking in the Shadows was released in 2016 via Dissonance Productions.