I recently became aware of the Berlin-based heavy psych-doom duo of GRIN, featuring Sabine & Jan Oberg (Earth Ship, Slowshine). Their newest album, Phantom Knocks, was released on October 14th via their label, The Lasting Dose Records.
About Phantom Knocks
Grin falls under the heavy psych-doom genre, one of my favorite psych sub-genres. The way Grin crafts atmospheres while still offering a crushing vibe is a big part of why I enjoy this album; it also made my Doom Charts submission list alongside this review.
Grin opens the album with “Transcendence,” an atmospheric feeling track that retains a heaviness comparable to post-metal to a certain degree. The bass guitar is prominent in the mix, only adding to the heavy feel of the song, which can actually be said of the whole album; the bass is in your face in the best way across the entire record.
Up next is “Aporia,” which for those unaware means “an irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction in a text, argument, or theory”; thank you, Oxford Dictionary!
The music on this one is similar to “Transcendence” in style and structure, but the vocals are much different. While they were clean on the first track, “Aporia” sees them take on a dark, almost Black Metal-influenced approach, very raw, echoing, and a perfect choice for this very cool song.
“Arcane” is quite possibly the best track on Phantom Knocks, as the vocal melody and style are incredible. The music applies an atmosphere that supports those vocals nicely, and my only gripe is that I wish the track was a bit longer. It also features René Nocon on Hammond Organ.
“Apex” reminds me of “Aporia” thanks to the vocal work. The weird thing is that you wouldn’t expect this style to work with the music, but it does; it’s actually perfect for the songs that use it. Also, on the weird end is that I can hear a Tool influence, particularly with the bass and drums, but not the overly technical side of Tool, more of their groove-oriented elements; it also brings certain aspects of the Deftones to mind.
“Rivulets” reminds me of tracks 1 and 3; not a lot of new ground, but still a very cool track nonetheless.
“Servants” is the second-best song, in my opinion. It takes the elements of “Transcendence” and “Aporia” and mixes them together in a convincingly cohesive way. The vocals have a raw bend to them, but also more of the cleaner, more melodic vocals, and the blend of the two is a huge part of why this song works so well.
“Spectral” is titled in such a way that it actually describes what the music feels like. It has a ghostly feel that permeates the beginning of the track, and for the last minute and a half, we get a section that resembles the music on the rest of the album, creating the best way to close out this great album.
Phantom Knocks shows Grin at their finest! These songs all have atmosphere, heaviness, cool songwriting that only this duo can create, and excellent production values. I truly believe you’ll like this record, even if you’re just a casual listener of the heavy psych-doom genre. It’s available now on Bandcamp, my preferred music site, so go over and check this one out for yourselves! Enjoy!!!
Standout Tracks: “Arcane,” “Servants,” and “Apex”
Support Grin by checking out his Bandcamp or find them on social media (Instagram, Facebook).
This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.