CD Review

Grace Overthrone - "The Grimm Masquerade"

By Mike Ventarola

Band Line Up:
Lena Grimm - vocals and lyrics
Tony Mac - main music writer/producer, guitar, drum loop, keyboard-sampling wizardry

Grimm MasqueradeWhen Gothic and non-Gothic friends try to convince me to lend them a CD that is up for review, I know I have a hit on my hands. Such is the case with Grace Overthrone's latest work, The Grimm Masquerade. This band has been around for about 5 years and in that time has managed to sell out of everything from the artwork on the covers to the CD's themselves. This music is so broad in style that it leaves me wanting to classify it as Modern Gothic/Dark Rock. Reviews of their live shows have been nothing less than spectacular. The lead singer, Lena Grimm, is a blonde beauty who breaks with the tradition of dark hair for dark music. This should not in any way deter you from sampling this music. Ms. Grimm has a power house vocal style that leaves many competitors in the dust. Tony Mac, the music maestro and wizard behind the various sounds, has swarthy good looks and an easy going style. Again, this should in no way fool you into thinking this music is pabulum drummed up by nice looking people. This duo works our everyday angst into musical compositions that we can identify with because what is written is true in nature and based upon circumstances in their lives.

Stop opens up with a dark background, rich with drum beat and guitar work. Lena is warning us that we are f*ing with the wrong person. This song is appealing because it addresses those times when we encounter someone who tries to get over on us and we have to get a bit ugly and stop them in their tracks. This song is expressed in a lower register that makes it almost anthemic. Fight takes a harder, dark rock edge while still being danceable. A song that deals with having to fight in our significant relationships with someone who has clearly been oblivious to our needs. To listen to this work you would think an entire band lineup of at least 5 was creating all this music. Father is the type of song that gives just enough to let you come to your own conclusion. It could be about incest, a priest or God. The lyrical ambiguity is what makes this song work well due to the many levels it can be interpreted as. The lovely drum beats open this song, while the guitar work gives the traditional Gothic chords. Lena continues to sing with fiery passion and multi-layered emotion that is inescapable. The range of her vocals are very evident and showcased strongly in this song.

LenaTripping With God uses dark ambient sound coupled with trip hop drums that segue into guitar work that continue to unfurl. Lena asks us if the light that is coming through is a hole in the wall or is it God? My Insanity further intensifies the emotional boundaries declaring, "my blood is poisoned from the bed I've made." Self recrimination never sounded so good. The vocal over-sampling gives rise to the multi- faceted personalities within each of us. Porcelain God is that place we have all been to at least once in our lives. Lyrically, this can be either an homage to the porcelain toilet we have retched into from a bout of drinking or a hopeless declaration to that eyeless statue of a religious image. The vocals echo and are compressed, bouncing off the walls of sound. The dark elements weave a hidden clock like sound, ticking away moments of our deep despair while we wonder if the one who drove us to this place is watching our inner torment and turmoil. Rolled Into One opens with brooding sound effects and whispers. We then are taunted with Lena's vocals to a background of drum and guitar work. She lets us know that she is "the pain of your birth, the blood of your cuts and the lust of your pleasure." She is the dark degradation of our humanity that smacks us in the face with the reality of our pain and pleasure rolled into one.

As Good As It Gets is not to be mistaken with the movie of the same name. This song further demonstrates how commercially viable this band is. It is a dark tune yet retains some elements of something that would likely end up on regular radio in a top 40 category. This song really appealed to the non-Goth's in my crowd as well. With these lyrics, we are confronted with realization that "this" is all we have and we question if this is as good as it gets. Definitely a worker's anthem for busting their butts in a 40 hour week and surveying their turf to realize they still don't have a thing to show for it. It also extrapolates upon the emotional void of self doubt that we retain in relationships. It is a reminder to stop and listen to the silence in our own heads to question where we are in our lives. Run, not to be confused with the Gossamer tune of the same name. This song is the awakened angst from listening to the above mentioned silence. It is the overwhelming pervasive fear we fight in an attempt to block the voices in our head. We run into the shadows of our psyche to escape ourselves only to have to confront them again.

TonyRadio Garbage is a tongue in cheek slap to commercial radio. The song opens with compressed and drifting vocals into something that would pass for top 40. Lena and Tony then kick into overdrive with the guitar and vocal work about corporation warfare and suburban posers. Every style of music is incorporated into this song to make this a truly brilliant track. Lena guides us on this tour of "full sonic suicide" with cynical lamentation similar to Deborah Harry during her early Blondie years. The samples used could not have been any more perfect for a song. Inversity leads us to that point of total self absorption. This reflects being with someone who assisted during our time of adversity. It is not love or affection that keeps us bound but the usefulness one can provide us. Lena becomes the black widow spider with lyrics that engage, "you sold your soul for me, you took my pain away, I think I'll keep you." She also lets us know that if you rely or place demands on her she will leave and forget of your existence. Monotony wraps up the CD, allowing us to see the sweet with the aforementioned bitter. This is not a song of a cruel person, just someone who cries at the deceptions we have to deal with in a world gone mad. It expounds upon the realm that the pain we see in others and experience ourselves is just another day to someone else. It darkly broods and guides us to question if we stop and notice the sorrow around us or do we just dream about being taken away from all this insanity. Are we to play the game of bravado as a means of survival?

Grace Overthrone presents us with a dalliance of a new age of dark rock music that is continuously bringing them more fans with each outing they undertake. Lena Grimm throws us into a myriad world of pain, ecstasy, and disillusionment. The talents of Tony Mac at the arrangement helm make the duo sound like a full orchestra. Lena's lyrics allow us a peek inside her world but at times she will turn the mirror back on us to reflect if these type of things happen to us as well. She purges her demons vocally while maintaining an animated and beautifully toned singing style. The episodic vocal compression and over layering work to highlight her sumptuous voice. I will contend that this is a CD you must rush to get if this even remotely interests you. They do sell out quickly and this reviewer was forced to go without their last CD due to this fact. Luckily I joined their news list that accompanies their web page and was able to get advance notice of this release.If you are looking for something that remains true to the dark music form but provides a wealth of new sound, this is the music to get.

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