CD and album reviews are not anything this site usually takes on; however, Hushed and Grim is one of the most anticipated heavy metal releases of 2021. As soon as it came out, I saw all other metal blogs racing to be the first to weigh in on the 8th full-length release from the Atlanta prog metal quintet. So I decided to hold my thoughts and take some time before publishing my opinion.
Full disclosure, I have been friends with Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders since I was 18 (and so were they) and had known Braun and Bill for the better part of two decades. Even coming up in the Atlanta music scene with these guys, I never was a serious fan until Blood Mountian. I felt they hit their stride on this album. The subsequent Crack The Skye is an absolute metal masterpiece.
The album’s following also had moments of greatness, and the focus on Braun Dailor’s vocal added a whole new dimension to the band’s sound.
So What About Hushed and Grim?
At over 86 minutes in length with 15 songs, Hushed and Grim is far from easy listening. There is a lot to unpack. A common thing I’ve heard from many of my friends is, “I listened to the whole thing the day it came out and thought it was great and then never listened to it again.” Oddly enough, I found myself doing the same thing. That said, is Hushed and Grim a disappointment?
Not at all.
Let’s start with the good points. One notable element is Troy Sander’s bass playing that has sat in the back over the past few releases is now pushed up much louder in the mix, and his playing jumped up a notch, even boasting a bass solo on “Teardrinker.” Troy even penned 4 of the tracks after taking a backseat on songwriting duties for much of the last decade.
Brent Hinds shines, as usual, with many tasty guitar solos done in a style that is all his own. One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Beast,” a Brent composition and features some excellent Jimi Hendrix-like guitar parts you rarely hear in metal.
The lyrics primarily deal with longlime manager Nick John’s death, an awesome guy I had the pleasure of knowing over the years.
For me, the standout track is the first single, “Teardrinker,” which is somewhat commercial and incredibly catchy. “Skeleton Of Splendor” is a close second and ventures in some fantastic, atmospheric stuff similar to my favorite Mastodon song, “The Czar.” The opener “Pain with an Anchor” and the second single, “Sickle and Peace,” are also great.
Once you get into the second half of the album, it does start to drag, especially near the end.
All in all, the album is well worth a listen; you might want to make a playlist of the songs you really like and maybe not listen to some of the rest.
Hushed and Grim Full Album Stream
That concludes my first album review. I hope you liked it.