Traditional metal from Norway, not to be confused with the 1980's metal band from the U.S. of the same name.

Wasteland Serenades Griffin - Wasteland Serenades (Season Of Mist) 2000

1. "Mechanized Reality" (3:04)
2. "The Usurper" (3:29)
3. "Spice Keeps Me Silent" (5:10)
4. "Obsession" (4:37)
5. "New Business Capitalized" (3:11)
6. "Hunger Strikes" (3:26)
7. "Always Closing" (4:43)
8. "Punishment Macabre" (3:10)
9. "Exit 2000" (3:52)
10. "Wasteland Serenade" (3:10)
11. "Dream Of The Dreamers (Bliss 2)" (3:47)

"Wasteland Serenades" is the debut album from Norway's Griffin. Their sound here is a unique mixture of straight-ahead heavy metal and thrash metal. Not that mixing these two styles is neccessarily unique, but at the same time I am hard pressed to name a band these guys sound like. Vocalist Tommy Sebastian reminds me of a slightly more melodic Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger). His raspy voice actually works well for the band. Having become familiar with the band's later albums before hearing this one, I was a bit surprised by the vocal style. Where I think Sebastian shines is on heavier numbers like "Punishment Macabre and "Mechanized Reality". The worst vocal performance was on album closer "Dream of the Dreamers" which is a powerful, melodic number where the vocals just seemed out of place. Musically the band offers a bit of diversity from song to song. Griffin arent' afraid to slow things down, thrown in some acoustic interludes and thrash things up when neccessary. Overall, a solid metal platter. I must confess, however, that I think this band improved with time and follow-up albums are even better.

No Holds Barred Griffin - No Holds Barred (Facefront) 2003

1. "The Sentence" (3:37)
2. "Unbreakable" (3:16)
3. "Praise The Rain" (4:17)
4. "New Boss" (2:58)
5. "Weightless" (4:31)
6. "Heavy Metal Overload" (3:43)
7. "Second Time Around" (5:32)
8. "Fleet Street Superstars" (4:47)
9. "Feeding The Fire" (3:52)
10. "Bleed" (3:19)
11. "Sacred World" (4:41)

Power metal seems to be the metal flavor of the day in most countries outside the U.S. There is a ton of great power metal bands coming out of Europe right now. I had assumed that Griffin were riding the same train, but was pleased to find out that I was wrong. Griffin's "No Holds Barred" is traditional, classic heavy metal with some slight speed metal influences thrown in as well. One the first few listens to this platter I was reminded of a heavier version of Pretty Maids or perhaps even early Sinner. This CD actually sounds pretty unique to me, especially considering Norway is more known for their black metal bands. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if Griffin were inspired by fellow Norwegians TNT though, as they share some of the same passions for melody and both have a way with catchy song writing. New vocalist Pete Beck adds much to the music here. His soaring vocals reminding me of Philip Lynott at times and Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) at others. The music here probably wouldn't be considered heavy by modern standards, but Griffin are not wimpy either. Their classic metal style infuses solid guitar riffs, dual guitar harmonies, and aggressive drums. The songwriting is diverse as well. Songs like "Second Time Around" take the melodic ballad approach, yet others like "the Sentence" and the thrashy "Fleet Street Superstars" are straight up heavy.

Lifeforce Griffin - Lifeforce (Spiritual Beast) 2005

1. "Accelerate" (1:25)
2. "Rest" (3:35)
3. "Premonition" (4:02)
4. "Recipe For Rage" (3:06)
5. "Utopia" (3:41)
6. "Dungeon" (3:55)
7. "Moment Of Madness" (3:05)
8. "Building A Future" (3:57)
9. "Lifeforce" (4:20)
10. "Bound In Re-runs" (3:42)
11. "Leylines" (2:01)

Back with their fourth CD, Norway's Griffin haven't lost any power over the years. The band is still playing a potent mixture of traditional heavy metal and European power metal, not unlike Primal Fear, only with a charisma that is all their own. The band have a nice dual guitar thing going on as well. Apparently the band had lost their vocalist for a spell to health issues, however he is firmly back in place for this CD. Vocalist Pete Beck has a superb voice that works so well for this band. Andy LaRocque, of King Diamond fame, mixed and mastered this album and gave the album a biting sound that isn't too clean, but is nicely produced. It's a shame this band isn't more known. They are easily as good as some of the European elite, if not in fact better than some of them.

The European edition of this album has the bonus track "Unforgiver" included. The Japanese edition has the music video for "Utopia" as an added bonus. I have the Japanese edition. (Thanks Kurt)

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