It has been 21 very long years since the last release from the hidden gems of Seattle, Gruntruck, and 25 years since their last record. Now they are back with a self titled offering. It would be pointless to try and go over the many things that tore this band apart since they aren’t super well documented and they all happened three decades ago. What I will say is what we know – essentially that the same old bullshit happened as it does with many bands from this scene. The label fucked them to bits and they didn’t really ever get the shot they deserved even though they were just as good as if not better than many of their Seattle peers who are currently playing stadiums. Looking at this new record, made up of recordings found from sessions with legendary producer Jack Endino we start to get a sense of what Gruntruck could have been if they had ever been given a real chance. They were clearly on the verge of something huge, and I want to take some time to pick it apart.

The first thing that you need to know about Gruntruck is that they always focused a little more on the metal side of things. In fact a lot of their riffs don’t seem that far removed from some of the industrial metal stuff that was starting to gain traction in the 90s. One need look no further than the absolute crusher of a riff that defines the new classic War Flower to understand where this band was coming from. In a time when nu metal was just starting to dominate and Pantera was kicking ass all over the world Gruntruck was trucking along, doing their thing and reflecting on the utter pain of existence. The cyclical and massive riffs they use to grind the whole thing forward is stunning. The massive sonic assault this band breaks down onto you is a stunner that will crack your fucking skull time and time again. Gruntruck represented something truly different – sure they yarl and have the tone, but the metal sensibility can’t help but to charm.



With this particular record I think it’s important to note the major step forward in terms of songwriting. While yes the band was held back due to label issues and all the rest of it I would argue that it was only with their 1996 EP, Shot, Illusion, New God that the band started to seriously take the throne as grunge kings musically at least. Of course by that point they had been off the scene for so long that the bubble had burst and it was too late to cash in. They had gotten so close and I feel like this record was the key thing to push them over. It’s deeply emotional, heavy, different but also accessible. Sure they push the boundaries of what grunge can be, but anyone can dig into the Led Zeppelin inspired psychedelia of a track like Noise Field. These riffs are primal and beautiful, they punch you in the gut and encourage you to dig your teeth into something far more interesting than what their peers in bands like the Foo Fighters were doing at the time.

What fills me with frustration though is that while this record, chock full of potent choruses, true singles and groovy riffs will never get the attention it deserves. It is a mere footnote from a band who had a very real shot to become titans and who now are going to forever be forgotten in the annals of music history save by lonely music nerds like me. Sure that’s a bitter way to look at it and sure there aren’t a lot of other solutions, that’s just how music works after all, but it also is a crushing reminder that no matter how close you get you can still end up fading into obscurity. Of course – we could see a Pentagram reunion type situation, drugs never seemed to be an issue for this band, or at least not as much as for other bands, and Gruntruck could ride again. In fact that’s the ideal situation in my eyes. These songs mean a lot to those of us who dug deeper into the grunge scene and to ignore that power would be remiss.



When it comes right down to it Gruntruck is a motherfuck of an album that represented a way forward for a genre that I think many viewed as limited and inherently self defeating. It has simply top notch songwriting and is put together in a way that is wonderfully addictive. The driving force behind this band is the destructive rhythm section filling the entire thing with a sludgy inventiveness none of us can turn away from. The multi part vocals on songs like Reverse Angel remind us of the punk rock roots of the genre, but also the sheer amount of skill that Gruntruck always brought to the table. There is something wonderfully unique about this album, and while yes there are bits that will appease the ‘grunge girls’ those of us who dug into the genre for its abundance of riffs are going to find more than enough to tide us over as we embrace the mastery of what has been unveiled before us here.

All that being said – I think this is a bold and beautiful move.

The fact that the band is going to come back with a new singer to play some shows is incredibly exciting to me. The fact that these songs are so GOOD is incredibly exciting for me. Hell, the fact that people other than me even give a shit about Gruntruck in 2017 is incredibly exciting for me. These guys were among the greats and they never got their due – so it’s nice that something is being done for these masters. I’m very interested to see how things end up playing out over the next few months for the grungers and I think we could be in for an exciting revival. Hop on – this bandwagon could do with a few more folks on board!










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