Norwegian blues-rock explosion The Grand have just released their eponymous debut album proving there is truth to the rumours one has been hearing; of a rare supergroup in motion.
As the name indicates The Grand is not a band out to spin gentle aural webs or reach us in hushed voices from some introvert place of sorrow and despair. Nay, this is a playing band, if there ever was one, and words of a supergroup are not too grand at all.
-For this is Amund Maarud’s baby and he is out to claim his place in the pantheon of the instrumental geniuses gone inspired songwriters; the pantheon of names such as Cream, The Who and Led Zeppelin.
If Clapton was God, and Jimmy Page some Merlin up in Crowley’s castle, and if Josh Homme is the current Queen, then Maarud is certainly aspiring for the post of archangel.
Still not 25 years old, Maarud is one of very few true guitar heroes at large in Norway today; i.e. one of those rare few who don’t take up the guitar to do something but are the guitar; talk through it, live by it, and love playing to such a degree that performing on stage is almost more normal and genuine mode of being than not. A “decorated veteran” of the Norwegian blues scene he has been a professional guitarist for many years already and he has played with many of the greats; Norwegian and international.
But then, as we have seen it happen before: out of the complete mastery of the blues came this urge to push further, into the realms of energy and complexity and song-craft that distinguishes the blues-based supergroups of old; those deemed divine by fans around the world.
The Grand play a highly energised, at times frantic, kind of bluesy psychedelic rock which is dirty and murky and incredibly catchy. –A combination that requires instrumental mastery of the highest degree; not least since songs like these are born out of jamming and improvisation, and that is also where they very often end. The Grand make no secret of their inspirations or ambitions: Cream, early Deep Purple and Black Sabbath – in the form of Hammond organ and tarnished, sooty guitar tones – but also the twinkling, luminous aural phrases of Led Zeppelin and the unexpected tonal shifts of more contemporary stoner rock.
But neither stellar projections nor a remarkable front-man alone make a group of The Grand’s calibre. It is the collective that makes the magic happen and in this case the band is as close and coordinated as limbs on one body. Drummer Henrik Maarud is Amund’s brother, and the fact that they’ve played together since the age of about five, says everything about the standard of interplay we are here talking about. The rest of the guys have also been with Amund a long time, as his blues backing band. But one day they decided, as mentioned above, that the time was right to become the collective colossus they in fact already were.
The Grand’s debut was an EP released in May of this year. It did not go unnoticed and sparked hopes that an era, or at least a band, of masterly bearing was in advent.
On October first confirmation came with the release of the grand’s eponymous first full length album. Critics have called it a grand exhibition of the essence of masterly energetic blues rock. The daily Dagbladet wrote: The band is aggressively guitar-based, with chopping, minimal backing grooves and solos stuck into the music as red hot iron rods, while the drums stampede like a herd of buffalo through every tune.
And it is of course no secret that it is live that this band fully mesmerizes: the term powerhouse is resurrected from the apocalypse of the machines and our bet is that sooner rather than later The Grand will make their impact on the live scene of uncompromising, played, blues rock around the world.