Grodek is a death/doom metal band hailing from Vasto, Italy formed in 2014, consisting of four musicians: Tiziano de Cristofaro on guitar, Matteo “Grind” Colantonio as vocalist and also on guitar, Matteo Sputore on bass and Alessandro Leone on drums. The name Grodek refers to the poem written by Georg Trakl, which is about the bloody battle between the Austrian and Russian armies in the early stages of the first world war. Trakl, a medic in the Austrian army, witnessed the carnage first hand inspiring him to compose this sinister, dark piece of poetry. Trakl’s belief that continuing war will ultimately end in the demise of human kind more or less corresponds with how the band Grodek sees the world today. They see the world decay at every level, and the in their eyes only possible reaction is to convert that disaster into art, in this case music. The band is active since 2014, although the first signs of life date back from a year before. Shortly after being founded they released a demo called Demon and now they’re back with a brand new EP titled Downfall of Time, perfectly fitting the band’s view on the world.
Spanning only four songs it still has a total playing time of over 25 minutes, at least giving you plenty of bang for your buck. Opener From the Fog I Rose is a typical doom metal song, a slow, lingering piece with some heavy riffage and strong, cumbersome grunting in it. Solid, but not very inventive or exciting. Naiade, the next song, brings more excitement in Grodek’s music with a bit more speed, much more predominate guitar work and a variable, at times surprising tune. The strong rhythm section gets more exposure in this one as well, which definitely adds to the intensity of the song. In The Pale Dame Grodek’s death metal influences surface, with an even stronger rhythm section and characteristic grunt work. And then, just like that, it’s time for the concluding piece called Time and Black Tides in which all doom metal influences have disappeared. It’s a song that keeps a pleasant pace with prog nuances here and there and which has guitar-countering drum lines. The vocals have a touch of black metal at times with the screams, the higher pitch and the whispered parts. Already being the most surprising song on this release by far, it yet has another surprise up its sleeve. Some four minutes into the song it suddenly breaks into a proggish intermezzo with a sweet bass line only to re-ignite the blackened death metal from the start into a peculiar mix towards the end of the song. An end that leaves a lot of questions.
All in all Grodek delivered a solid piece of work with Downfall of Time, but it does not particularly stand out when it comes to ingenuity or originality. It’s not that you get the feeling you have heard it all before, not at all even, but I didn’t find a lot of ‘eureka’-moments either, save for Time and Black Tides. That one is something special with prog, black, death and more metal influences. Grodek is good at what they’re doing and it definitely is worth your attention, as long as you don’t expect a ground breaking, never-heard-before type of music, although the finale comes pretty damn’ close to just that. Fans of the genre don’t need to hesitate to get their claws on this, and if you want to get acquainted with death/doom metal Grodek is a great band to start with.
For those interested, here’s the translated poem Grodek was named after:
At evening the autumn woodlands ring
With deadly weapons. Over the golden plains
And lakes of blue, the sun
More darkly rolls. The night surrounds
Warriors dying and the wild lament
Of their fragmented mouths.
Yet silently there gather in the willow combe
Red clouds inhabited by an angry god,
Shed blood, and the chill of the moon.
All roads lead to black decay.
Under golden branching of the night and stars
A sister’s shadow sways through the still grove
To greet the heroes’ spirits, the bloodied heads.
And softly in the reeds Autumn’s dark flutes resound.
O prouder mourning! – You brazen altars,
The spirit’s hot flame is fed now by a tremendous pain:
The grandsons, unborn.