If they'd never gotten past the demo stage, A GRUESOME FIND would have been remembered forevermore as the band who billed themselves as "True Ohioan Bleath Metal". You know — black meets death? Thankfully, as they unleash their international debut, someone has apparently taken them aside and gently suggested that Ohio doesn't inspire anyone as a hotbed of Satanic bacchanal, and "bleath" is one of the lamest words ever concocted to sell anything, much less extreme music. The concept is fine, but say it out loud. "Bleath". Yecch!
That aside, A GRUESOME FIND turn in an impressive performance here, albeit one so steeped in the traditions of their influences as to render them a well-executed homage to the past. Wisely, they keep things simple, echoing the most basic tenets of the European masters, relying on speed-picking melodic riffs and including a number of midtempo sections that belie their American death metal origins, as well as providing some dynamic and atmosphere without some misguided urge to mindlessly bludgeon the listener into submission.
There's a live, loose feel to "Minions Engage" that suits it well — note a little bit of "push and pull" in the tempo when the classical-inspired riff comes in just after 2:30 in "Curse of Shedim", and at the beginning of "Shroud of Darkness". In this day and age of overprocessed and quantized blast beats, a little bit of, for lack of a better word, "realness" serves the band well, giving off a vibe that hearkens back to the rough-hewn black metal classics of the 1980's.
"The Nightmare Within" may throw some people off, its rollicking midtempo melodies bringing to mind eastern European folk music (perhaps filtered through the minds of EINHERJER or FINNTROLL first), but it's builds up into a speedier ending that highlights a cool, busy, melodic riffing style that could really set A GRUESOME FIND apart, given more development.
Not all of "Minions Engage" is that, well, engaging — some of it is merely (corpse)paint-by-numbers black metal that, while satisfying to listen to, isn't memorable. But A GRUESOME FIND are clearly on to something here, and are well worth supporting. Their grasp of melody and songwriting, their unorthodox riffing, and their out-of-step sound — neither lo-fi trashcan nihilism or ornate maudlin Goth slop, but the sound of a real, true, live band tearing into some old-school-derived black metal – are impressive, to say the least. A definite band to watch.