Grace and Thieves – Shepherd Of The Wolves


Grace_SheperdNow I have been involved in one form or another in the punk scene for probably just on 25 years. Listened to a lot of punk or punk influenced music during that time. I am not your average punk however as I have a very broad spectrum musical taste, and it broadens more and more has the years pile on. So what does this have to do with the review, well absolutely nothing. Okay so I have the pleasure to review Grace and Thieves latest offering, which is the 4 song 7inch vinyl release, “Shepherd Of The Wolves” available through Veritas Vinyl.

So who are Grace and Thieves then some might ask? Well firstly they describe themselves as playing heavy, neurotic, fast punk / hardcore. There is no splitting hairs over this, because that is what you’ll get. They further describe themselves in their description as, “Like giant sandpaper fingernails across an electric chalkboard at a machine gun festival.” So Grace and Thieves formed in 1999, are out of Salem, Oregon and the band consists of the current members who are: Justin Riley -Bass/Vocals/Lyrics, Jesse Parks – Guitar/Vocals/Lyrics, and Mickey Widmer – Drums/Background vocals/Lyrics.

So what can one expect to hear on “Sheperd Of The Wolves?”. Well one of the things I really like when I listen to a band is when a band has some guest spots on it, especially people you admire, or who are just plain sizzling musicians. It just makes the release just that little bit more credible and enticing, and almost always something worth a listen at-least. So who are these guests? Well we have on the song, “Anointed for Burial”, Greg Minier (Crucified), then we have on “Eyes In The Back Of Your Head”, Rick Donaldson (Rick Donaldson was singer and bass player for Hardship, The Crawlers, One Arm And Dead, and a bunch of other bands from the NW HC scene) and on the song, “Shepard Of The Wolves”, we have Joey Trump (EX – inked in blood and is currently the singer for the Globalist). Having listened to some of those bands, I can assure you that’s a powerhouse of talent right there. That’s like pitching up at a fight, and behind you have Thor, Wolverine and The Hulk having your back. Chances are this is gonna be an epic brawl.

“Shepherds Of The Wolves” opening song, “Anointed for Burial”. Starts with a long intro that gracefully builds up momentum, putting some suspense into the song, before Jesse Parks begins howling at the audience. This song has so many different influences for myself in it, its one part metal, another punk, and hardcore, reminds me a little of later Crucified, “Pillars of Humanity” era. It kinda makes sense since Greg Minier is part of the guitar attack. For me its a crossover experience that is a wonderful introduction of the thunderous explosive machine gun assault that does not let up right through till the forth song, “Burning From The Inside Out”; which introduces you with a peaceful piano piece, before the airy guitar distortion begins the adventure with a slow march, and the lead guitar howls away before breaking with raptures of guitar assault, and Jesse Parks is released from his chains, and the beast within shouts and screams almost frantically right until the sudden last guitar assault. I imagine him with a restraining coat on bouncing off the cushioned walls behind a locked door in a dingy Sanatorium somewhere. This is good stuff. Great stress releasing songs, and great for that morning workout soundtrack. You are sure to dig a mosh-pit where ever you are whilst listening to this. “Eyes In The Back Of Your Head”; I must say there are days I wish I did have eyes in the back of my head for a number of reasons, would be handy having a 360 degree view. Well hold on tight folks, this train just plows forward at a high rate of mph, and “Eyes In The Back Of Your Head” races like a fire-flood across the airwaves. Its a full on hardcore punk assault, it has the maniac drumming, rushing neurotic guitars with the angry vocals which are sung mostly by Rick Donaldson, sound like they would grab you, chew you, and spit you out in tiny pieces. Its a solid hardcore punk song worthy of some of the great hardcore punk bands like Disorder, Chaos UK, and Black Flag, not that they sound similar to one another, but they offer that same quality of rushing adrenaline. The Title track, “Shepherd Of The Wolves” continues on the same premise, its high octane fueled hurricane assault that moves at break neck speed, as their noise assault that gives a pounding rock punch that could in a mosh crush bones, and leave you bloodied and bruised.

Conclusion then, Grace and Thieves bring you a crusty hardcore punk assault that is short of being written from within the wards of an Asylum. Its frantic, fast…the guitars are neurotic, the drumming is thunderous and this should cause spontaneous mosh pits where ever it is played. The music is fairly simple, but effective, well played. For this type of sound and speed, crazy technical riffs would just breakdown the momentum, and the energy that these guys bring to the playing field. It cannot really be packaged under a specified genre as the collective influence run wild here, these guys influences range from Neurosis, Black Sabbath, The Crucified to August Burns Red. That is quite a wide spectrum of influences, so I think it would only be an insult to say they are merely a hardcore punk band. If you a fan of any of the bands above, I would encourage you to give this a try…it might just pleasantly surprise, though warning this is not for everyone, because in a way its a concept, and you are not going to play this whilst trying to get your newborn down to sleep….there will be a circle pit in the crib for sure. I am a supporter of Vinyl too, so this is an ace for me, and Veritas Vinyl, the small label out of Colorado is a mecca for some great vinyl releases, and this release sits comfortably along side those releases. Yes its not the best punk album you will here, yes its not the most technical punk album, and yes it only has 4 songs on it. Maybe its better they went with 4 songs, because by the last number I was almost exhausted, and its not like they are opuses, they are quick adrenaline fueled burst of guitar thrashing, enough to warrant a warning to any one who dares play it, that you could at the end of a listen be all but be one sticky, smelly, sweaty lump of goo. Also the vocals don’t have much variation, but seriously folks, that’s being petty….this is great stuff, and capsulizes the energy and spirit of those early 80‘s hardcore bands with DIY fineness. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys. I will be Circle pitting to this for days to come……catch ya in the pit!

For fans of: Crucified, Neurosis, 90LB Wuss, Hardship, crust, thrash, hard-core punk.

Rating: 8.5/10

1: Anointed For Burial [Feat Greg Minier of The Crucified]
2: Eyes In The Back Of Your Head [Feat Rick Donaldson of Hardship]
3: Shepherd Of The Wolves [Feat Joey Trump of Inked In Blood]
4: Burning From The Inside Out

Band members:
Justin Riley -Bass/Vox/Lyrix
Jesse Parks – Guitar/Vox/Lyrix
Mickey Widmer – Drums/BVs/Lyrix

Weblinks: Facebook

Record Label: Veritas Vinyl, June 2013

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