rim Reaper was founded by Steve Grimmet (vocals), Nick Bowcroft (guitar), Dave Wanklin (bass) and Lee Harris (drums). All three of their original albums went down well in the US making top 200. They were a typical example of the heavy metal revivalist acts during the early 1980s known collectively as the "New Wave Of British heavy metal (NWOBHM)", much in the style of similar musical peddlers Iron Maiden, Saxon, etc. Grim Reaper featured all that was great in that style with melodic and galloping guitar riffs, enthusiasm and a fresh approach; but they also suffered from its shortcomings, namingly fanciful or downright silly melodramatic lyrics and cheap production.
After their debut in the 1981 Heavy Metal Heroes compilation with The Reaper track, Grim Reaper's 1983 album debut, See You In Hell, is often considered their finest work, especially the anthemic title track. Their first and only line-up change happened right after the album's initial release that saw Mark Simon taking over from Harris. Their 1985 recording, Fear No Evil, featuring cover art influenced surely by the likes of the Greatful Dead, and matching high-pitched vocals note for note with Iron Maiden would have fared better if it landed better production. Although they played with satanic and death imagery, Grim Reaper were never considered as such despite what the right-wing Christian groups might have thought at the time.
By the time Rock You In Hell came out in 1987, 'RCA' had somehow picked them up and Harris had returned. But the fan following Grim Reaper nursed during the mid 1980s wasn't any better as their melodic heavy metal sound was falling out of favor toward the heavier thrash metal and speed metal styles. The situation was further strained by legal battles with 'Ebony Records' delaying the release of Grim Reaper's third album Rock You to Hell by almost two years. The album was released directly through 'RCA Records' in 1987. Even the major label distribution and popular video for the title track could not save the band. With the production of their fourth studio album (reportedly to be called Nothing Whatsoever to Do with Hell) about to start, another round of legal action from 'Ebony Records' dealt the death blow to Grim Reaper, subsequently disbanding in 1988.
Grimmet went off to join Onslaught (then Lionsheart), while Bowcroft, for his part, would get minor notoriety for his guitar articles in several Metal magazines (Circus and guitar World) as a freelance music writer, and later staff contributor. He also worked with Marshall Amplification's United States division. He also played in the band Barfly who recorded an album with Jack Ponti producing and Michael Wagener mixing for 'RCA' records. The posthumously released The Best Of Grim Reaper would follow in 1999.
In 2006, the "original" lineup of Grim Reaper (without Nick Bowcott) played the Keep It True VI festival in Lauda-Königshoffen on April 8, 2006. Then Grim Reaper played the annual MetalBrew festival in London's Mill Hill on July 18, 2009. The act then made an appearance at the British Steel festival in Bolognia Italy in November 2010 that included other classic bands of the NWOBHM era like: Diamond Head, Girlschool, Demon and Angelwitch.
In April 2014, Grim Reaper played their first show in the US since 1987, joined by original guitarist Nick Bowcott.
Footnote: As a further note: Diskery fed the "reverse masked" message at album's end through a filter and the result was the words "see... you... in... hell", the title of their next album at the time, each word in a haunting gruff voice at ever increasing volume.
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Grim Reaper live at British Steel Fest in Bologna, Italy on November 07, 2010.
Photo by: Lewismaster.
CC BY-SA 3.0
|Active Years||1979-1988, 2006-|
|RRCA File Code||REV00119|