NWOBHM WEDNESDAY: GRIM REAPER
Grim Reaper were formed in 1979 and were discovered after beating out over 100 other acts to win a Battle of the Bands. They were awarded studio time and from that studio time came the Bleed em' Dry demo. The demo would serve as Grim Reaper's calling card to the world and the track "The Reaper" would go on to be on the 1981 compilation Heavy Metal Heroes. Although it was a great track and very NWOBHM in nature the fact is that the band's later material would have more in common with traditional heavy metal. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here though. The track caught the attention Ebony Records and original vocalist Paul DeMercado was replaced with the one and only Steve Grimmett. The demo For Demonstration Only was released in 1982 and by the time their debut album See You In Hell was released in 1983 the group had adopted a more mainstream heavy metal style. The album was followed by a handful of singles and promotional material before the 1985 release Fear No Evil attracted the interest of RCA who no doubt saw the groups over-the-top act as a potential money maker. Fear No Evil had a better production job and the group was gaining steam in both Europe and the U.S. With their trade mark sound in place Grim Reaper's See You In Hell was picked up by RCA who re-released the album. With the band's career ready to take off legal battles with Ebony Records would delay the release of the band's third album Rock You to Hell. After almost two years the album was released in 1987 directly through RCA Records. By that time though the scene had changed. With thrash metal all the rage Grim Reaper's melodic power metal style was out of vogue. Despite being on a major and having popular videos in heavy rotation the band couldn't hold on. With production on their fourth studio album about to start Ebony Records leveled another round of legal blows to the band. By 1988 Grim Reaper were done. Steve Grimmett went on to front Onslaught and Lionsheart. Guitarist Nick Bowcott (who helped craft the Grim Reaper sound with his guitar style) became a freelance music writer. He would also go on to write for Circus and Guitar World as well as working for Marshall Amplification's United States division. The band would re-form eventually though and are currently a live touring act (without Nick Bowcott though). It's doubtful though that they will ever be more than just that-a live band. My own history with the band began with my purchase of Rock You To Hell back in high school. Despite being a thrash fan first and foremost I like the group's power metal sound even though Grimmett is a take him or leave him vocalist. I was intrigued enough though to hunt down the group's earlier recordings and See You In Hell became a guilty pleasure. Yes friends, even I make fun of Steve's vocals sometimes. I can't help it. But there is something about Grim Reaper and those cheesy lyrics of theirs that I can't help smiling about. Sure they would go on to be made fun of by Beavis and Butt-head thanks to the videos for "See You In Hell", "Fear No Evil", and "Rock You To Hell". But it's hard to find anyone who could resist the fury of Grim Reaper if you were to play their records. The fact is their just a fun act.
Metal Mark says-
I had Fear no evil recommended to me by a worker at record store in 1985 so I gave it a shot and was not disappointed. The tight riffs and flying solos from Nick Bowcott were the real feature. Plus I loved the frequently horror inspired lyrics. Steve Grimmett could go over the top with the vocals though. Tracks like the title track, "Final Scream" with it's odd intro and other songs had me hooked. I picked up their debut "See you in hell" not long after and loved it as well. Then by 1986 there was talk of a new album tentatively "Night of the vampire" and Circus and Hit Parader were saying it should be released late Summer or early Fall of 1986. I waited and waited, but that time went by and no album. Reports of their legal battles came out as the reason for the delay. "Rock you to hell" finally came out in Summer of 1987. I liked it, but it was slightly lighter in tone and they overdid the group choruses a bit. The band was part of the "Hell on wheels tour" that fall with Armored Saint and Helloween. I remember all the local record stores passing out sampler cassettes for that tour that had songs by each of the three bands on it. Not long after that the band was done. I can't say for sure, but I always got the impression that Grim Reaper were bigger here in the states than they were in their own country which is a rarity for NWOBHM bands. I have to add that Steve Grimmett is one of the few 80's metal singers who sounds better today than he did back then as evidenced by his work on his solo album and the Grimmstine project froma few years ago. He has much more control over his voice nowadays. Grim Reaper never quite his the big time, but they still get talked about some even today and I always pull out their albums around Halloween.