If you're at all familiar with heavy music, chances are that you're acquainted with legendary Boston sludgelords Grief. Their sound blended sludge, doom, and some crusty influences into sonic depression, isolation, and anxiety. They've been releasing crushing, misanthropic, and nightmarish records off-and-on for nearly 30 years. Choice albums (not to mention their many excellent splits) like Dismal (1993), Come to Grief (1994), Miserably Ever After (1996), plus one of my favorites ...and Man Will Become the Hunted (2000) should be regulars in any sludge fan's rotation. Unfortunately, after the latter excellent record, Grief disbanded in 2001.
Fast forward to 2014, and founding member and guitarist Terry Savastano (formerly of Disrupt) once more felt the need to grieve. Along with former Grief drummer Chuck Conlon, and a couple new members, they began playing old classics mainly written by Savastano, as well as recording new material under the moniker Come to Grief, a reference to their classic album from 1994. Come to Grief has released some singles, splits, and EPs since 2017 and 2020's Pray for the End is their latest punishing offering (although I've heard a new full-length could be in the works).
Pray for the End is lean at only around 16 minutes long, but they use that time to build a truly oppressive and depressive experience. The first track, Ignorance is Surely Bliss, is little more that an intro that sets the dark and claustrophobic mood before March of the Maggots kicks off, first with plodding drums and bass, before building into a brutal opening riff. The low, slow, and somber music rumbles underneath the throat-shredding, almost Thou-esque, vocals. The misanthropic lyrics only add to the atmosphere being created. The tempo rises only slightly, churning along, the cutting off into feedback until a riff at about 7:15 into the project reminds us of why this band is great. The dissonant arpeggiated riff almost gives me an OSDM vibe, akin to something out of an Asphyx or Morbus Chron B-side but with a little more psychedelic flavor. This track flows pretty smoothly into Raping the Willing, which utilizes synths and palm-muted riffs to bring us to the most head-banging groove yet. The shrieking raspy vocals sound perfect over the slow, agonizing chugs. These are some of the crunchiest Savastano riffs I can remember, and they transition into slow dissonant runs that end up getting sucked back in by the heavy as all hell chugs and screeches. The tone and riffs get a little more melodic with extended chord strumming, before breaking into a half-speed pummeling of these same chords ringing out while being joined by those inimitable shredding vocals to close out the EP.
Is it a perfect EP? Not by any means. I could have done without the minuscule intro track, and wouldn't mind just a bit more experimentation. But if you are a fan of Grief or really any sludge/doom in general I would definitely give this a listen. They were not trying to reinvent the wheel here, and their ability to convey sludgy, depressive, and harsh rawness proves that Come to Grief is still a major force to be reckoned with.