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Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Grande Fox - Empty Nest (2021)

Country: Greece
Style: Stoner/Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 Feb 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Next up in my exploration of the apparently thriving rock/metal scene in Greece is Grande Fox, whose Bandcamp page says they play "space psychedelic stoner heavy rock". That's fair but maybe a little bit misleading, as there's another element missing from that description and there's nothing to hint at a very American sound. Sure, stoner rock came from the U.S. but, whenever I see both "psychedelic" and "space" in a genre, I think Hawkwind and they're not where Grande Fox tend to go, except perhaps on Brainstorm.

The heart of their sound is hard rock with enough fuzz on the guitar and enough of a psychedelic edge to count as stoner rock. There are southern rock tinges here too, most obviously on Hangman, and an alternate Nick Cave-esque groove early in Route 99. However, that missing element is highlighted by a prominent bass and clean but angsty vocals and that's nu metal, especially when a second voice adds to the depth of Rottenness of Youth and raises System of a Down along with more expected bands.

Nikos Berzamanis is the lead vocalist here and it's obvious that he listens to a lot of trendy American bands, not just because of his general vocal style but because of the way in which he crafts melodies and fills space. There's clearly plenty of pop, rap and punk in his voice, but somehow he fits in a hard/stoner rock outfit and fits surprisingly well. He's easily the most nu metal aspect in this band but I'm happy to say that he sounds good here, doesn't piss me off in the slightest and makes me appreciate just how versatile he can be. He's never trying to be someone specific; he's always experimenting with what might make a song sound different and that's never a bad thing.

Given how much music I cover from Europe and South America and other countries outside the U.S., it can't come as much of a surprise to find that I'm one of those old school fans who regards nu metal as more of a loud American pop genre than a progression of rock music down a particular track. I'm not a fan, generally speaking, though there are bands I appreciate. I like System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine as much as I don't like Korn and Limp Bizkit. If that's me just appreciating originality, it shouldn't surprise that I kind of like Grande Fox even when I don't.

And not everything here is for me, Overdose probably being the most obvious song I don't like, but it still features elements I do, like that neat Sabbath-esque riff that kicks it into motion. It's safe to say that more songs are absolutely for me. I particularly like the opener, Backstab, with its late drift into psychedelia; the space rock freakout, Brainstorm; and the genre hopping trip that is Brutal Colors. It isn't the only song here to find a funky vibe, regardless of whatever else it's doing.

This is a second full length studio album from Grande Fox, following Space Nest in 2016 and an EP in 2018 called Kulning. I liked a lot of this and I appreciated all of it and it's a particularly great example of how much musical invention is coming out of Greece nowadays. This is a more versatile album than other American-influenced releases I've reviewed by bands like Skybinder, Soundtruck and Dendrites, but it underlines once more a surprising trend for Greek bands to take their influences not from the rest of Europe but from across the pond in the U.S.

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