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Grifter - "The Return Of The Bearded Brethren" (CD)

Grifter - "The Return Of The Bearded Brethren" CD cover image

"The Return Of The Bearded Brethren" track listing:

1. Black Gold (4:15)
2. She Mountain (3:20)
3. Paranoiac Blues (5:26)
4. Princess Leia (4:15)
5. Bow Down To The Monkey (4:57)
6. Braggard’s Boast (2:26)
7. It’s Not Me, It’s You (4:17)
8. Fire Water (4:30)
9. The Return Of The Bearded Brethren (4:42)
10. Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath cover) (6:25)

Reviewed by on August 19, 2014

"'Return of the Bearded Brethren' is good, but I can’t give it my full blessing, because it just isn’t notable."

Beards are a strikingly popular thing these days. Personally, I hate wearing a beard, it’s hot and itchy. Plus, I think most men don’t really look that great wearing a beard. Some do – my friend Dean is quite striking with his neatly-trimmed face sheet, but he’s pretty unique in that respect.

When it comes to my beard however I am caught in a tough spot: I have very sensitive skin. Shaving is a nightmare of ingrown hairs, bleeding and three-day-old razor burn. So I often have a beard (or at least a weeks-worth of one) which my Eastern European heritage makes sure is quite thick. This has nothing, and everything, to do with Grifter.

Grifter’s guys – Ollie (guitar/vox), Phil (bass) and Foz (drums/vox) – all have beards. This is not surprising. It is also not surprising that they stick to one of the accepted musical styles that men with beards must play: 1) Viking Metal, 2) some combination of stoned/sludged/doomed gunk, and 3) blues-y hard rock-y metal. This is number three.

And it’s good. “Return of the Bearded Brethren” has quite a bit of pep. “Braggards Boast” is a neat little blues song ripped from your favorite Thursday night bar band. “Princess Leia” combines 70s AOR rock, blues, and everyone’s favorite sci-fi babe. “It’s Not Me It’s You” is a ZZ Top workout. “Fairies Wear Boots” is a respectful and too-faithful cover of the Sabbath classic. Ollie has a suitably scruffy singing voice and a groovy style on his strings, while Phil and Foz are focused and tight – nothing extraneous with those two.

Like I said, “Return of the Bearded Brethren” is good, but I can’t give it my full blessing, because it just isn’t notable. It’s like that burger you had last night – plump, juicy, tasted good, pleasing at the time – but a couple hours later you thought about it and wished you’d gotten the fish tacos with mango slaw and homemade sauce. Because that’s something you can’t get every day. “Return of the Bearded Brethren” is the same way. When you’re listening it is pleasing – heads bob, fingers tap, cars are driven, it’s a good scene – but after it’s done you wonder why you burned 45 minutes on it instead of that awesome new post-metal/drone/hardcore group you bought the other day. Because that is something at least you don’t hear everyday. It’s at least… interesting. Which is more than I can say about “Return of the Bearded Brethren.”

Highs: “Black Gold” is the strongest track on the album with a tight rhythm and strong riff.

Lows: There is no reason (except your own fealty) to cover Black Sabbath if it’s going to sound exactly the same.

Bottom line: Very well executed heavy blues, but it just isn’t notable.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)