GRIFFIN – No Hold Barred


Face Front Records
Release Date: October 30, 2003

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Yes! Norway has suddenly gotten a golden opportunity to be known for something that is not brown cheese, mountains or Black Metal. All of those are great, of course – I’ve eaten quite a lot of brown cheese lately myself – but there’s something special with an instant mixture of screaming guitars, pounding drums, great melodies and catchy beats. Early in the morning, late at night, the Norse Metal Masters are ready to fight!

Anyway, Griffin is a relatively new band. I’ve never heard them before but I think I’ve read mixed reviews of one or two demos and one full length album, and they’re signed on the idealistically managed but tiny Norwegian label Face Front. They perform a very catchy, riff-y and headbangable ’80s style of Metal, say a mixture of Gary Moore solo and Motorhead perhaps, with some elements of maybe Angel Dust, maybe Helloween or Rage in there too. (Imagine a pissed Lemmy Kilminster with a pumpkin on his head snorting cocaine – isn’t that’s what Angel Dust is – while eating dark bread with brown cheese. That’s Griffin in short.)

To the music:
To take the bad part first – there is one poor song on the album. The track I’m talking about is the ballad “Second (and hopefully last) Time Around”, which in these ears has very little or nothing of what I expect from a good ballad. The opening riff could maybe be used as a break-up/middle-eight riff in another song, except from that there’s not much light in the tunnel (this is where I’m NOT gonna say the “but the lights may come from a train”-joke). When guitarists Magnus Silver (Swede?) and Kai Nergaard turn on the laughing gas and press full speed forward, on the other hand, things are starting to happen. Basically the entire rest of the album is very, very good full-on Metal numbers, with seemingly zillions of zillions of class A riffs, a powerfully voiced and very cool looking singer, and a rhythm section as tight as CENSORED. Some highlights are the melodic verse parts on “Unbreakable,” the hyper-energized chorus on “New Boss,” the atmosphere of “Weightless” and “Praise the Rain,” the kick-ass attitude of “Heavy Mental Overload” and “Fleet Street Superstars,” and the magnificent, epic chorus of “Feeding the Fire.” That chorus is actually so good it’s kinda frustrating for me when listening to the album in full, as I feel that “FtF” is a far better tune than both of its successors it, and maybe, MAYBE, the album could have ended there. Don’t get me wrong, both “Bleed” and “Sacred World” are good songs, but, well, you get my point.

Still, this is the best Heavy Metal album to come out of Norway in years. Many years. I remember some bands called TNT and Artch (or I don’t actually remember them, as I was born when they were at their peak, but anyway), but that was a loong time ago. There’s been some attempts, but Pagan’s Mind are (although a fabulous band) too proggy, Highland Glory too lame, Scariot I haven’t heard (), Arch Nemesis either and Absolute Steel are, although cool, maybe not relevant in this discussion. My point is that Griffin is on the very edge of conquering the empty throne of Norwegian Heavy Metal. They have a very competent line-up, some great songs, the right connections (Alexi Laiho from Children of Bodom plays and produces on “No Holds Barred”), and well, the only thing they miss is a truly soaring ballad. Light those candles fellas, and lose a girlfriend or two, and we’ll see what time will bring. “Say hello to your – New Boss!”

1. The Sentence
2. Unbreakable
3. Praise the Rain
4. New Boss
5. Weightless
6. Heavy Mental Overload
7. Second Time Around
8. Fleet Street Superstars
9. Feeding the Fire
10. Bleed
11. Sacred World


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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