Come to Grief – When the World Dies Review

Back in the early 90s, Louisiana wasn’t the only locale with conditions ripe for the development of sludge metal. Congealing in 1991, Boston, Massachusetts’ Grief were similarly influential in forging a template for how sludge, especially sludge doom, would develop in the subsequent decades. By the time they released their debut Come to Grief in 1994, they had fine-tuned a sound that was heavy, slow, and, unlike a lot of doom at the time, incredibly pissed off. Bands that carry at least some of Grief‘s DNA include Primitive Man, Kowloon Walled City and Thou, just to name a few. After cycling through several lineup changes, four full-lengths and a slew of EPs and splits, the band called it quits in 2001. A short reunion in 2005 yielded only two new songs. Still, original Grief members Chuck Conlon (drums) and Terry Savastano (guitar) kept a candle burning for their former band until 2017 saw them resurrect the project, this time as Come to Grief. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect considering world events since then, and 2022 sees the full-length debut of their current iteration, the aptly named When the World Dies

Come to Grief returns to the sludge pits with a sound born of their original vehicle, but rejuvenated for contemporary ears. Previously known for their borderline minimal riffs and caustic delivery, 2022 finds them with a slightly more nuanced approach to songwriting. The sound and feel of When the World Dies is heavy and confrontational thanks to a Kurt Ballou production job that favors a ragged bass, animating the range of riffs coaxed into miserable existence by Savastano, Jonathan Hebert and bassist Jon Morse. Guitar solos are used sparingly, but to significant affect, as on “Life’s Curse” and “Bludgeon the Soul/Returning to the Void.” Hebert’s lead vocals are a more corrosive, higher pitched beast than former Grief vocalist Jeff Hayward’s, meaning Come to Grief sounds a lot like if Indian1 cared more about a groove.

And groove they do. When the World Dies is absolutely littered with infectious riffs that hollow out a spot in your brain a little more with each subsequent listen. There are head-nodding jogs like the principal groove on “Devastation of Souls” and classic doom riffs like the six-note descending phrase near the end of “Scum Like You2.” The crunchy filth of the production job never lets up, meaning if you like capital S Sludge, this is an album to sustain you through the long winter months when provisions are scarce and the journey to the riff store perilous. Such is this album’s viscosity that the most bare-bones composition, “Bludgeon the Soul/Returning to the Void,” ends up the most oppressive track. This is the aural equivalent of watching one of those online videos of a hydraulic press crushing various objects, elegant in its simplicity and inevitability of outcome.

Personally, I see few drawbacks to When the World Dies, but then I’m an avowed sludge doom stan. It’s unlikely anyone not on board with the genre conventions will be won over. In that way, this is very much like the Crowbar album I reviewed earlier this year. Like with Zero and Below, Come to Grief have crafted a fine return to form for an OG 90s band producing music in 2022, but they are no longer the bleeding edge of innovation. Some may also notice that Hebert’s vocals approach Charlie Fell/Dylan O’Toole levels of pterodactyl screech. Personally, this is my favorite vocal approach when paired with sludge doom, but I know it can be divisive. Speaking of, Converge frontman Jacob Bannon provides backing support on two tracks, and I think it works beautifully. 

When the World Dies is another strong entry in what is shaping up to be a good year for sludge. Come To Grief sound spry for their age. They may not be an altogether new band, but their sound has evolved admirably since their Grief days into one that is far from out of place in the contemporary metal landscape. More importantly, this album is heavy as a neutron star and the riffs are rock solid. Mark this as a triumphant return.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Translation Loss Records
Websites: cometogrieftl.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/extremesludge
Releases Worldwide: May 20th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes
  1. Indian, of course, owed much of their style to Grief.
  2. No U
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