When Joel Grind isn’t making speed metal in Toxic Holocaust or producing and mastering other artists in his Pacific Northwest studio, he can sometimes be found behind synthesizers. His work under his own name is a mix of darkly lit electronic music that tows the line between deep space Komische, horror/sci-fi scores, and pure atmospheric dread. With the 2016 single Fatal Planet, then quickly following that up with his Death Waltz Originals release Equinox, Grind proved that he was just as effective behind an analog synthesizer as he was fronting an extreme metal band.
He’s a man with a lot to say in many different musical moods and languages.
Joel Grind has just released his follow-up to Equinox, and his second release with Death Waltz Originals titled Echoes in a Crystal Tomb. Where Equinox was firmly planted in the forests and shadows of earth-bound dread and darkness, Echoes in a Crystal Tomb takes us into deep space for some serious Krautrock and Berlin School workouts. It’s a stunning end-of-year surprise.
We are greeted at the door by the exquisite “Fallen Metropolis”, a deep dive into an ethereal melancholy that is a mixture of Klaus Schulze and Jean-Michel Jarre. An arpeggiated sort of sadness permeates the opening track and gives us a glimpse of the trip we’re about to take. “Inside The Mothership” takes a decidedly different turn, laying down some heavy Zombi vibes right out of the gate. But Grind layers some tasteful electronic riffing over the main arpeggiated riff which gives the proceedings a serious deep space Edgar Froese feel. “Spirit Machine” lays down some space madness funk, quickly giving me the urge to be a space cowboy, or space marauder, or something close to space pirate.
Grind proves himself even more adept at mood and atmosphere building here. He steps from the occult world of Equinox to the sci-fi elements of Echoes without as much as a hiccup. And really, this album stands up to the giants of the Krautrock/Komische/Berlin School world as if it dropped from the ether in 1973, rather than 2019.
Echoes in a Crystal Tomb works its way thru a song cycle that builds mood and returns to familiar motifs as if carrying us along some epic tale. The melancholy(“Barren Galaxy”) intermingles with the heavy(“Dawn of Mystical Enlightenment”) which coalesces into heady space drifts(“Underwater Dream”), which all work up to the epic “Volcanoes of Ice”, a Krautrock workout of epic proportions. Combining elements of progressive rock, 70s German synth music, as well as sci-fi scores, Grind builds to a momentous conclusion on the albums longest and most epic track.
Echoes in a Crystal Tomb is classic heavy synth music. A soundtrack for the deep space traveler and Komische drift fan, Joel Grind has made a record filled with epic turns and heady shifts in sonic construction.
7.9 out of 10
Joel Grind’s Echoes in a Crystal Tomb is available now on limited edition color vinyl at Mondotees.