Fear No Evil
Spitfire Records, 1985
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/07/2001
Listening to the reissue of Fear No Evil, the 1985 sophomore release from British metallers Grim Reaper, I have to wonder what the modern-day generation thinks of this retro-metal. No doubt they'd scoff a bit at the semi-demonic imagery that guitatist Nick Bowcott and crew conjured up, especially since some of today's metal makes this stuff look like a horror film you used to see on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
But once upon a time, this stuff was cutting-edge, winning the band a dedicated legion of fans thanks to select stations playing tracks like "Final Scream," "Rock & Roll Tonight" and "Fear No Evil". Yet even back then, when I was just 15 or 16 listening to my cassette of this release, I thought that something was missing from the mix.
Something indeed is missing - in fact, many things are lacking on Fear No Evil. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here.
In all fairness, this album was a step up from See You In Hell, even though the basic formula hadn't changed much. You still had the banshee-like wailing of Steve Grimmett and the fretboard-on-fire leads of Bowcott. But the muddied drum sounds that were on the first album hadn't improved on Fear No Evil, though I'm hesitant to blame new drummer Mark Simon for this. No, the blame here lies with producer Darryl Johnston, who could have made the whole mix a lot crisper.
There are also some decent songs on Fear No Evil, though such an admission would be quickly footnoted as being a guilty pleasure. Well, I won't do that. I grew up listening to "Final Scream" (though the opening sequence with what sounds like Pee-Wee Herman's son is a bit banal) and "Fear No Evil," and these songs still have some magic in them that puts a smile on my face. Were there other groups doing this same thing at the time, only better? Yes... but I can't help liking these two tracks.
Sadly, these are the highlights on Fear No Evil. The remainder of the album slips into the exact same problems that plagued See You In Hell.The songwriting still is formulatic and without the hook needed to lure the listener in ("Never Coming Back," "Let The Thunder Roar," "Fight For The Last"), the mix (as noted before) isn't the best - and, let's be honest, Grimmett is not the best vocalist in the genre. Passable, yes; stellar, no.
What's worse, time has not been kind to either Grim Reaper or Fear No Evil. These days, the album sounds incredibly dated, even with the bright spots. This is the kind of disc that's listened to as a reminder of youthful days gone by, not as a refresher course in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (of which Grim Reaper was on the tail end).
Granted, Fear No Evil is not the worst way to pass an hour, and I still occasionally dust the cobwebs off this one just to clear the musical pipes in my head. But while this disc marked a slight improvement for Grim Reaper, it also suggested these guys were not destined for the big-time.