Grim Reaper came and went after three albums. All were filled with the demonic imagery that marked similar heavy bands of the mid-'80s. But, unlike some of their hard-rocking brethren, this furious foursome managed to chart in the United States with all of their releases.
The group was formed in 1979 in their native Droitwich, England, by guitarist Nick Bowcott, who would also be credited for chants on their albums. He worked with various local players before finally settling on a line-up that included singer Steve Grimmett, bass guitarist Dave Wanklin and various drummers. Building a following around their hometown, they got a big break in 1981 when a track called "The Reaper" (with a singer other than Grimmett) was featured on "Heavy Metal Heroes," a compilation of hard rock bands. Big break two came when they were signed by Darryl Johnston, president of England's Ebony Records. Johnston decided to work with the group after hearing three tracks produced in a marathon 24-hour recording session Grim Reaper had won after besting 100 other competitors in a local "battle of the
Grim Reaper debuted in the summer of 1984 with the roaring " See You In Hell " (RCA 8038), which was recorded in just four days. It charted in August, peaking at No. 73 on Billboard's pop chart. Their music was too wild to get much Top 40 radio exposure, but a video for the title track did get into heavy rotation on MTV, which helped the album sales, as did a national tour that year. It also received good reviews from critics like Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times, who gave it a first-place rating on his "Heavy Metal Meter".
With the solid success of their debut, Grim Reaper wasted little time on their follow-up to " See You In Hell ". " Fear No Evil " (RCA 5431) - which introduced new drummer Marc Simon (was recorded in nine days). It was issued in May 1985 and charted a few weeks later.
In the late summer of 1987 the group was back with what would prove to be their third and final album - "Rock You To Hell" (RCA 625). It was another best-seller. It also introduced another new drummer, Lee Harris.
Despite their success, there were problems in the band that finally led to their break-up after "Rock You To Hell". Founder Bowcott would become a writer for "Circus" magazine and later work for Marshall Amps in New York City. Grimmett did much better for himself, joining Onslaught, which had been formed in 1983 as a punk-metal hybrid by drummer Steve Grice and guitarist Nige Rockett. Later joined by singer Paul Mahoneyand bassist Jason Stanford, they cut "Power From Hell" for the Cor label in 1985. They then recorded "The Force" for Under One Flag before moving to London Records to work on "In Search Of Sanity". At that point, Grimmett came on as lead singer for the album, which came out in 1989. He would quit a year later, disappointed by critical reaction to the album.
After Onslaught, Grimmett formed a new group -Lionsheart - that had a more melodic, though still hard-rock feel than some of his past work. He signed with Music For Nations, which issued their self-titled 1993 debut. While England and the U.S. didn't seem to care much for their powerful sound, the album fared better in the rest of Europe and Japan. That led to their second release, "Pride In Tact", which came out in '94.
In 1994, Grim Reaper's video for " See You In Hell " was briefly revived when it was used in an episode of MTV's "Beavis And Butthead". The little cartoon twerps made fun of the dated sound and imagery of the group but when they were at their peak, Grim Reaper was a powerful band that could more than hold their own with any other metallic rockers. This collection of their first two RCA albums makes that clear.