Obituary – Paul van Linden of Grimpen Mire

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On 1st June 2013, I spent my mid-honeymoon Saturday at Gulliver’s in Manchester, watching the gig of my life for the princely sum of a fiver. Undersmile I knew and loved; Blackburn’s Bastard of the Skies were (and still are) my favourite band; and the magnificent Ishmael were to put in their final and most intense performance later in the evening.

The second band on the bill however, West Midland trio Grimpen Mire, flattened the intimate venue with a devastating set that left me open-mouthed. The most striking element was the gnarled, gangly frontman: wringing hideous notes from his bass with vicious intent, the pain and bitterness of his roared lyrics etched across his face. I chatted with the band after their set and was struck by their collective warmth; their excitement over their forthcoming ‘split’ with their Lancastrian friends on the bill (it would eventually materialise to critical acclaim the following April) shining through. We got on so well that we agreed to share a few pints when we next met.

Sadly and suddenly, a posting to their still-maintained Facebook page last Tuesday 9th June alerted fans to the passing of that wonderful frontman, Paul van Linden; this after the seemingly reluctant decision by the band to split almost six months earlier. The thread following the announcement, full of heart-rending condolences and reminiscences, reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the modern UK Doom and Sludge scene – testament to the regard the band was held in by its peers, and to the impact the bassist / vocalist left on all he met, however fleetingly. Luminaries of the scene such Conan, Sea Bastard and the band’s fellow protagonists on that fantastic night two years ago have all posted their own tributes to their own pages.

A fifteen-minute conversation was all I ever had with Paul. Long enough to know, however, that he made a lasting impression on me. The many who met him seem to share the same opinion: a hugely talented musician, the brutal intensity of his stage presence contradicted entirely by his warmth, wit and unflinching honesty. Everyone at Ghost Cult magazine offers our sincere condolences to his wife Alex, his daughter Lizzie, and his loyal, devastated bandmates Jim Goad and Ian Davis.

Please ensure this amazing artist and his band are never forgotten by downloading their music, now available in entirety through Bandcamp.

PAUL QUINN

Blackout – Blackout

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The delicate, almost tasteful indicator to hirsute naturism adorning the cover of the eponymous, sophomore full-length from Brooklyn crushers Blackout (Riding Easy) nods to a polite, MoR-infused Heavy rock; the trio of fresh faces seemingly hiding an element of wounded steel. It comes as a very pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that the sound within is a brain-frazzlingly heavy kaleidoscope which tips its cap toward these very shores.

From the outset the influence of the UK’s Doom and Psychedelic scenes is overtly apparent; the spaced vibe of London mindwarpers Hawkwind wedding with the morose horror of Electric Wizard. Roaring riffs crack open the skull and forcibly widen the mind whilst the low rumbling of Justin Sherrell‘s earth-shaking bass, first noticeable in the title track, exudes the multi-hooved thunder of Odin’s cavalry. Slightly more complex passages of ‘Sprites’ and album opener ‘Lost’ invite Kylesa to the party, with a slightly harsher edge to Christian Gordy‘s roars and screams evoking Phillip Cope’s cavernous utterances and adding to an already powerful intensity.

Gordy’s oscillating clean vocal brings to mind both the devilish haunting of Jus Oborn and the deep, vibrating incantation of The Wounded KingsGeorge Birch; a laconic moaning that coats the fuzzed, murky atmosphere in a warm yet nefarious candlelight. Taryn Waldman‘s drums, meanwhile, are slightly suffocated in the mix, surely to shield the listener from the titanic pummel that would damage the ears without such protection. Indeed it’s the colossal convergence of riff and rhythm where this album reaches its apex, as with the pulverising mass opening ‘Cross’ which is both euphoric and oppressive. The track’s leadplay is sparing but perfectly carries ominous melodies with consummate timing and suitability, while its coda’s closing swell is the album’s most expansive and definitive moment.

The phenomenal resonance and weight, best exemplified in the rolling crush, yelping roars and hammer blows of ‘Tannered’ and the sample-littered crush of closer ‘Human’, will prove irresistible to fans of Blackout’s aforementioned peers and proves originality isn’t always a byword for quality. Crunching, unnerving, yet capable of unforeseen subtlety, this is an intriguing and highly enjoyable set.

8.0/10

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PAUL QUINN