Griiim – Pope Art Review

Once upon a time there was a dude named Maxime Taccardi. Max has a twisted and dark mind, and I fear it. His music is equally frightening, and it makes me uncomfortable. Yet, I can’t turn it off. Try as I might to fend it off his insidious vision haunts my imagination, conjuring the most depraved scenarios for me to weather. For Max, it seems, this place of nightmares which he creates represents the repugnant underbelly of his Paris home. And so he put all that we refuse to see inside the “most romantic city in the world” to music. Ladies and gentlemen, Griiim’s Pope Art.

This is not an album tailor made for metalheads. But, if you are willing to embrace Max-imum strangeness, go forth into that disturbing rendition of Marilyn Monroe—that’s Max’s actual blood, by the way—and discover an eerie concoction of trap, trip-hop, industrial, noise and black metal. True-blue riffs surface only once (“Šizofrenija (Feat O)”) and blasts are nonexistent. Phat beats, however, are populous and potent, proving that Griiim is a skillful rhythmic force. Guitars function mostly to simulate droning dives and oppressive noise, manifesting the shadiest environs fathomable, aided by the use of samples ranging from original content to Charles Manson interviews (“I Ain’t Going Down”). Anger and hate seethes within Pope Art’s lyrics as well, which makes this album unpalatable for the thin-skinned.

Opening combo “Intro” and “Welcome to My Nightmare” set the tone for the record, utilizing trippy samples and synths dancing upon a backdrop of slurring guitars and high pitched wails that make Dani Filth sound like James Earl Jones. The trip-hop beat therein is serviceable, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the memorability of third entry “My Name is Max.” Utilizing melodrama via blaring brass and various droning Doppler effects, “My Name is Max” makes me feel violated every time I listen to it. Lyrics are uncomfortably intimate in nature and malevolent in spirit, but that’s also, somehow, a major contributing factor to its allure. Hearing something so unabashedly evil and seedy and still wanting to spin it ad nauseam? That’s just excellent songwriting in action.

Excellence continues for a time, despite every effort I make to reject this putrid experiment. “God is Love But I’m Hate” showcases addictive trap rhythms and brilliant use of feeble barks, futzing with classic black metal tropes to create something unique. “The Church of Negation,” “As Long as You Hold the Knife” and “Guiding the Flesh,” too, hook you in fast and strap you down for a disconcerting ride through the sketchiest recesses of Griiim’s world. Analyzing the music apart from the record’s theme reveals that Max inserts precisely measured injections of melody—derived from both guitars and effects—in these aforementioned tracks. Listeners may not notice the effect at first, but their smooth integration allows the songs to defy their bloated runtimes, which in turn makes seventy-eight minutes of this stuff fly by in what feels like fifty.

Sadly, seventy-eight minutes still afford Max plenty of room to fuck up, and fuck up he does. “Solitude in Heaven” plays with some industrial influences and, like so many things industrial, it becomes boring. “As Long as You Hold the Knife (Part II)” features a bizarre combination of high-energy drumming with relaxed guitars and vocals. It’s a vexing experience that does become more palatable over time, but not enough so that I want to keep it around. Similarly disposable, final duo “I Ain’t Going Down” and “I’m Upset (Epilogue ft. Kristen)” feel like filler. Though these last cuts still maintain a high hook factor, Griiim snagged me many times before and by this point I don’t feel anything anymore.

We now arrive at the most difficult consideration. Having experienced Pope Art a dozen times, I never want to return. Not ever. Yet, I might because the gritty, unflinching depravity of it all is irresistible. Perhaps it is morbid curiosity that attracts me so to this gnarled soul? Whatever the reason, give a demon permission to enter, and it will haunt you until the day you die by its hand. You’ve been warned.

Rating: 3.0?/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Labels: Purity Through Fire
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 31st, 2019

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