Monday, March 21, 2011

Macabre: Grim Scary Tales (2011)


Macabre is a death/thrash band formed all the way back in 1984, whose music and lyrical content were strongly influential on early death metal bands. I had never heard of them before, probably because they're not terribly prolific: Grim Scary Tales is the band's fifth full-length, with all five albums spread pretty evenly over their 27 year career.

Grim Scary TalesWhat we have here is what might most accurately be called a shtick. First, take the premise: each song is based on some, well, macabre tale from history, beginning with Locusta (a Roman serial killer) and ending with Karl Großmann (a butcher who sold human meat in Berlin during WWI). They are in chronological order, including a faithful cover of Venom's "Countess Bathory". The tales are told with all the corn of a carnival freak show promoter, in both clean vocals and strained growls like you might find in early death metal.

Much of the time, this could come off as ordinary death/thrash, with some catchy riffs and melodies. But the corniness is woven into the structures of the songs themselves. They throw in cheesy music, like Italian folk in "Nero's Inferno" or old-timey horror movie music (you'll know it when you hear it) in "Dracula". If you think music has to be serious, stay away from this. But if you're open to the concept, it is extremely well-executed.

The Verdict: Grim Scary Tales is a lot of fun, good for a few chuckles or rocking out. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I'll be keeping my eye out for its planned follow-up, covering the period from WWI to the present.


  1. Ah yes Macabre. I am familiar with them, though I am not sure what to think of them. I have their concept album Dahmer about Jeffrey Dahmer obviously and it's pretty damn weird. The most bizarre aspect being that some of the tracks are public domain songs with lyrics altered to fit the concept. Like I said, pretty weird stuff. They definitely have a unique sense of humor.

  2. I love the sense of humor on this. I can't help but think if I was in a metal band, it would have a humorous slant to it, although perhaps it wouldn't be nearly as obvious as this. (I thought "Decapatorium" would be a nice name for a band.)

    In any case, they've endeared themselves to me, and I feel like somewhat of a kindred spirit.

  3. I feel it's a near crime to not specifically mention how effortlessly Dennis the Menace orchestrates his complex drumming. Great live show and cool guys. A shame this release will pretty much go unnoticed.

  4. Everything about this band is pure musicianship and awesomeness. Yes they're odd and morbid, but they are so insanely talented that they're cult-underground status is actually a bit of a kick in the nuts . . . but they don't seem to be complaining that much. I could speak from here until eternity about how awesome Macabre is . . . three guys, and only three guys, who started back in the early eighties and continue to create some of the harshest and raunchiest music to this day . . . that in itself is worth an induction into the Hall of Fame. But the people who care about Macabre are well aware that they are the only people who care about Macabre. And this album is just another masterpiece in their catalogue. However, I often wonder how truly awesome this album would have been had The Werewolf of Bedburgh and Jack the Ripper been on it instead of Murder Metal. But meh . . . that's neither here nor there as every Macabre album is awesome . . . (with the slight exception of Minstrels).