The English heavy metal band Grim Reaper were extremely talented, but unfortunately they did not get the opportunity to achieve the success the truly deserved, primarily due to bad luck, and legal problems with their record label. The group got off to a great start, having some success with their debut album See You In Hell (1984). Their follow up record Fear No Evil (1985), showed great improvement in production, songwriting, and musicianship, as the band continued to incorporate dark themes, and horror based concepts into their music.
Grim Reaper featured Steve Grimmett on vocals, guitarist Nick Bowcott, Dave Wanklin playing bass, and drummer Marc Simon. Grimmett's powerful vocals, had great range on the high end, and together with Nick Bowcott's aggressive guitar, helped to characterize the band's heavy driving sound. Bowcott's fluid and quirky playing style masterfully incorporated all the tricks common in the 80's, including tapping, harmonics, vibrato, and tremelo bar.
Like their previous albums, Rock You To Hell (1987) features a colorful depiction of the Grim Reaper with his scythe. Musically, the band continues in much the same direction as Fear No Evil, with solid production that puts the emphasis on the vocals and guitar. There are no ballads to be found, as the songs are mostly fast paced aggressive numbers, with a driving beat.
The opening track, "Rock You To Hell" sets the tone for the album, with a edgy killer riff, and wild guitar from Nick Bowcott, it is one of the band's greatest compositions. "When Heaven Comes Down" is another tremendous fast-paced rocker. "Night Of The Vampire" is an awesome song, that features some scary atmospheric guitar, and Grimmett's screeching vocals.
Reaper comes out swinging on "Rock Me `Till I Die", with Steve Grimmett hitting the high notes. Marc Simon is an incredible drummer, and never more so than on this track, which also features more evil sounds from Nick Bowcott's axe. "Lust For Freedom" might be a slower tune, but it hits like a sledgehammer, and Bowcott delivers another unpredictable winding solo. "You'll Wish You Were Never Born" features a repetitive driving rhythm that the band seems to favor in many of their songs, but they come up with an interesting bridge in the middle. for a nice change of pace. Steve Grimmett's singing is fantastic throughout the album, but seems especially inspired on "I Want More".
Legal matters eventually led to the demise of Grim Reaper in the late 80's, as this extremely talented band, was sadly never able to achieve the fame and acclaim they should have. Musically, they really had at all, a great singer, cutting edge guitar playing, a powerful rhythm section, and songwriting talent which was clearly improving with each album. With a little luck, and decent support from a record label, Grim Reaper probably could have been huge.
Rock You To Hell has become quite pricey, but the band's first two releases are available on a single CD (See You in Hell / Fear No Evil). In 2006, Steve Grimmett reformed the band, although without any of the original members. So another Grim Reaper album might be possible someday.