May 2011 09

Cover Image
Category: EBM / Terror EBM
Album: Chemicals + Circuitry EP
Stars: 3
Blurb: Grendel’s new EP shows a change in style that could benefit or hurt the band.


Grendel is a band known for harsh electronics and harsher vocals, slamming head-on with coarse vocals for a brutal sound. Fans of Grendel will be surprised, though, to hear a different sound coming from their speakers when spinning the newest EP, Chemicals + Circuitry: distortion-free vocals. Gone are the heavily modulated, harsh vocal distorters that have become commonplace – if not trademarked – of the band and the aggrotech scene. Chemicals + Circuitry barely holds on to Grendel’s roots as the band explores a broader electronic/industrial horizon, with three new songs and a handful of remixes.

The real question at hand is will fans embrace the distortion-less vocals or reject it outright? Grendel’s new vocal style is decidedly not the Grendel of old – it’s not harder or faster or louder, as the track “Chemicals + Circuitry” might hint. In some areas, the vocals sound more pop-like than dark and industrial. But does this inherently make the new Grendel sound “bad,” simply because the fans of old might disapprove? In this writer’s opinion, no; no, it does not. It simply means that Grendel is not the same band they once were. Besides, they never used the vocal distortion live anyway, so one might argue that this is closer to the true Grendel sound.

The three new tracks are very well composed despite being starkly different from the expected style. “Chemicals + Circuitry” blends harsh elements with more a more electro/dance feel, with catchy hooks and a heavy beat. Lyrical content is a bit weak and clichéd, but one may argue that some of the catchiest songs are as well. “Shortwired” continues the EBM trend, with trace elements of the old Grendel buried underneath much more pop-sounding vocals (such as the callback to “straight for the flatline,” though sounding a lot less menacing this time around). Third up, the instrumental “Serotonin Rush” brings a club/jungle/house sound to the album, a style seemingly completely out of leftfield for Grendel. All in all, the three new tracks give a decent ground for Grendel to stand on and a view of what’s to come.

The remainder of the EP consists of remixes; a tactic that always has the looming tendency to drag down an EP, depending on how the other artists interpret the music. Leading off with a Komor Kommando mix is always a good idea, though, as seemingly everything Sebastian Komor remixes turns to gold. His remix of “Chemicals + Circuitry” builds heavier tension and brings the song back in the rough direction of darker electro/industrial. Overall though, the remixes tend to bleed together into a similar sound with punchy dance/club beats running amok. Such is the case with the remixes by The Synthetic Dream Foundation, Thomas Rainer, Studio-X, Statik Sky, and Modulate. The heavy dance remixes are solid, but note that the previous list has encompassed almost all of the remixes on the EP. Each remix could stand on its own, but variation would have served this EP well. Only DYM breaks away from the obvious route, implementing a slower and more dramatic take on the title track, complete with incredibly glitched vocals to make the track a completely new entity unto itself.

With a new take on vocals and a slightly less dark sound, Grendel may begin to appeal to others outside of the aggrotech genre, much to the chagrin of loyal fans. Will this hurt Grendel’s fanbase or will it help it to grow? Will Grendel revert back to their ways of old or “never give in” to their fans’ will to do so? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain: this is not the same Grendel.


Track list:

  1. Chemicals + Circuitry
  2. Shortwired
  3. Serotonin Rush
  4. Chemicals + Circuitry (Komor Kommando Remix)
  5. Shortwired (Synthetic Dream Foundation Remix)
  6. Chemicals + Circuitry (Dym Remix)
  7. Shortwired (Statik Sky Remix)
  8. Chemicals + Circuitry (Studio-X Remix)
  9. Shortwired (Thomas Rainer Remix)
  10. Chemicals + Circuitry (Modulate Remix)


Grendel Website
Grendel MySpace
Grendel Facebook
Metropolis Records Website


Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3




Zak Vaudo (Chaostar)

1 Comment

  1. SicSymmetry says:

    At first, I really did reject the new sound. I hated it for about a month thinking ‘WTH ARE THEY DOING?’ but… after more closely analyzing the sound and understanding the change, I really couldn’t stop listening. It’s not the same Grendel, but it is undeniably, still them and thus, still brilliant in its own way.

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