By most standards, Grief of War would be “retro thrash.” They formed in 2002; in 2005, they put out their first record, A Mounting Crisis…As Their Fury Got Released, which Prosthetic recently reissued. Such timing would put them at the beginning of today’s wretched retro thrash trend. However, I’ll give them a pass since they’re from Tokyo. I suspect that retro thrash was engineered during a meeting of white hi-top manufacturers in a shadowy stockroom somewhere in Los Angeles. Since I doubt they cut Grief of War in on the deal, the band probably arrived at retro thrash by themselves.
Grief of War describe themselves as “Samurai Crunch,” which would be the most awesome cereal ever. They’re not as original as that description implies, but it’s true they only serve one master: thrash. Yet they’ve moved beyond “let’s play thrash!” – which is where most US retro thrash is at – and are now about writing actual songs. Key to their songwriting are fiery, tasty leads, which soar over reliably thrashy riffs. Given the band’s technical prowess, their performances are a little loose, but that only adds to the old-school flavor. Other than a few blastbeats, this record could have come out 20 years ago.
I recently faulted Warbringer for the same thing, but somehow Grief of War don’t feel so opportunistic. Instead of the retro thrash uniform (which is so conformist it could be a Halloween costume), they have their own look going on. On A Mounting Crisis, they sometimes have their own sound, too. They’re currently recording their second album, so I’m curious how the band will progress.