List the ultimate heavy metal songs of all time. Let’s say, top ten. You’ve got ten minutes for the task, starting…now!
I’m sure most music fans would find challenges like these pretty daunting and frankly, rather pointless. After all, the world being full of great heavy metal tunes, spanning over fourty decades, picking out the best ones is definitely not an easy thing to do. Personally, if someone’s ever asked me to rank my all-time favourite metal songs, I might’ve come up with a two or three before giving up. Nonetheless, there are always a couple of songs that always spring to mind. One of them is Grim Reaper’s “See You In Hell”. Considering that, plus the fact our own steelmiller Pete Z brought this legendary album up as his april recommendation, I thought it would be high time to revisit it in a form of a review.
Whether my personal fancy for the title track is based on it’s musical greatness or only points to an unhealthy fondness of infernal screaming and cheerful greetings to meet my friends in a warmer climate, it shouldn’t be too difficult to claim this album a true heavy metal classic.
Formed back in 1979, Grim Reaper didn’t cause much fuss in the metal scene. Not until they came up as winners of british “Battle Of The Bands” competition in 1981. Subsequently the band gained more and more reputation with their music, frantically driven by guitarist Nick Bowcott’s talented guitarwork and most notably singer Steve Grimmett’s glass-shattering vocals. They never were a band of cover boys, wearing variously coloured spandex pants and looking like ordinary joes dragged from the local pub, but musically the band kicked ass so hard that the weaker listeners might’ve collapsed from the moshing and the damaged eardrums caused by Grimmett’s banshee yells.
“See You In Hell” album can be viewed as the best testimony of Grim Reaper’s power with the focal point being the legendary title track. Starting with raw, forceful riffing and intense drumming, the listener is sucked into a spinning heavy metal vortex where Grimmett takes the charge as he starts to deliver the verses with his famed singing, hitting the high notes with an ease that sounds unbelievable. The chorus of the song is an epitomy of heavy metal; crowd raising, ballsy chant that grabs you and just won’t let go. After coming up a chorus such as that, there really couldn’t have been any other way to name the album. Finally the song culminates into Grimmett’s final shriek that is almost inhuman.
The title track is not the only killer song on “See You In Hell”. The riff-based metal assault follows with cuts like “Dead On Arrival”, “Liar”, “Run For Your Life”. All of them present the purest form of heavy metal, bearing a gritty and rough back street attitude a little bit like early Iron Maiden but with high-pitched vocals and faster tempo. “Wrath Of The Ripper” is another favourite of mine on the record, decipting a menacing force of evil spreading it’s fury in the darkness. The guitars again carry the song with simple, yet ingenious pattern with Grimmett again adding a special Reaper trademark with his vocals, switching effortlessly from lower range to crystal clear heights.
Towards the end of the album, we get a very uncommon moment in Grim Reaper history. After a breathtaking set of storming rockers, a beautifully subtle guitar takes over and the the ballad “The Show Must Go On” begins. Showing a completely different side of the Reaper boys, this song reaches a stinging melancholy that echoes from Bowcott’s weeping instrument. Steve Grimmett has descended from a screaming metal deity into a mere lonely human whose pain of loneliness cuts like a knife with every touching phrase. Sheer class and as a ballad indeed a rare moment in the band’s catalogue.
After eight diamond hard tracks, “See You In Hell” draws to an end. With no weak moments between the beginning and the end, the album leaves as sturdy impression today as it did over twenty years ago.
The story of Grim Reaper ended as abruptly as it had begun. After two more blazing hot heavy metal spinners, “Fear No Evil” and “Rock You To Hell” (well, the album titles were perhaps a bit repetitive) the band called it quits and has not returned since. Unfortunately the group has since been remembered as just a little more than a cultish metal band from the eighties, thanks to their admittedly funny looking video of See You In Hell appearing on MTV’s Beavis & Butthead. Also, the band’s albums are very hard to find even in CD formats, but do definitely belong to any self respecting collection of classic heavy metal.
“See You In Hell” the song, however, made a notable comeback a few years ago, as the band Seven Witches included an excellent version of it on their “Xiled To Infinity And One” (2002) album.
So, there you have it. Another definite heavy metal classic and an album well worthy of Steel Mill’s mighty KlassiK -stamp.
1. All Hell Let Loose
2. Dead on Arrival
4. Wrath of the Ripper
5. Now or Never
6. Run For Your Life
7. The Show Must Go On
8. See You in Hell