Album Review – Grenouer / Ambition 999 (2019)

Over 55 minutes of classy and modern rock music showcasing a different side of this talented Russian band, but still keeping their amazing core Alternative Rock and Metal intact.

Offering over 55 minutes of modern and melodic Alternative Metal with several distinct rock elements, Ambition 999, the ninth album in the career of Saint Petersburg, Russia-based act Grenouer, turned out to be a long-term project due to all the re-recording needed until the band reached its desired sound. That resulted into one of the biggest gaps between albums in their career, with nothing more, nothing less than four years separating Ambition 999 from their previous album, Unwanted Today, released in 2015. However, all that wait was definitely worth it as their new album is indeed a fresh addition to their discography, with each one of its 15 songs offering a different approach when compared to the band’s two previous efforts in terms of riff intensity and rapid-fire solos, balancing between new and clichés, double density and marked vocal temperament.

Engineered and recorded by Al Bolo at RDS& Moscow Gates Apartment Studios, Anssi Kippo at Astia-Studio, and Luigi Del Missier at BlackMirror Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Giuseppe “Dualized” Bassi from dysFUNCTION Productions, and featuring a futuristic artwork by Brazilian artist Jobert Mello (Sledgehammer Graphix) and Italian artist Zimon (New Breed Graphic Studio), Ambition 999 feels like a heavier version of bands such as Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, presenting a more than inspired and electrified band comprised of Andrey Ind on lead vocals, Dmitry Rubanovsky and Alexander Motor on the guitars, Al Bolo on bass and Danny D on drums, and bringing to our avid ears everything we need to have a good time on the road, at a pub, at home, or anywhere else where good rock music is properly appreciated.

Electric waves permeate the air before the band begins blasting their modernized blend of Alternative Rock and Metal in Burnt to the Ground, with highlights to the slashing guitar riffs and solos by Dmitry and Alexander; followed by Nevermind Tomorrow, a song perfect for banging our heads to their riffs and beats while Andrey gives life to its party-like lyrics (“Fast and tight / High heel party night / Tomorrow never knows and never dies / Drinks on me / Any chicks for free? / We’re born to make some noise, so sing with me / Or you’d better shout”), and One Day, another thrilling tune in the same vein as bands like Godsmack, Shinedown and Three Days Grace, sounding very melodic and showcasing a passionate performance by Andrey on vocals while Danny D dictates the rhythm with his spot-on beats. Then in Infinite Grace the band adds a good amount of heaviness to their music, getting closer to the musicality by bands like Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson but still keeping their core Alternative Rock intact, also presenting some sick guitar solos for our total delectation, whereas in Medicine Treats No Lies the quintet continues their feast of modern-day rock and metal music, with Al together with Danny D bringing thunder to the music with their respective instruments.

If Cure for the Lonely is even more futuristic and atmospheric, displaying a strong focus on Andrey’s vocals and feeling at times like a hybrid of modern rock music with the electronic and alternative sounds by old school bands like Depeche Mode, Uncommon Faith is a good song for hitting the highway, presenting great sync between the band’s stringed trio and Danny D’s beats, all infused with Hard Rock elements. On the other hand, Back on Track is slightly below the rest of the album in terms of electricity, albeit it does bring forward a considerable amount of progressiveness as well as Andrey’s smooth but potent vocals; while Universe of My Heaven sounds very modern and progressive, also bringing some symphonic elements in the background to give it an extra taste. Moreover, Al’s bass sounds as groovy as it can be, while Danny D pounds his drums just the way we like it in good modern Rock N’ Roll. After that, it’s time for Grenouer to take their musicality to even more eccentric lands with the weird, atmospheric and fun Crimson Lines, with highlights to its classy, poetic lyrics (“Read between the crimson lines / Sacred destination / Go behind the scenes of life / Steady irritation / Read between the crimson lines / Go behind the sonic nightmares / Black and white visions in the sky”).

It’s interesting how Grenouer manage to keep their essence while exploring new sounds, which is the case in the almost electronic-dancing tune Chase the Sun, and although the final result is quite entertaining the guitars by both Dmitry and Alexander needed an extra kick for the whole song to work even better. Then melancholic, acoustic guitars ignite the introspective Ingenious Care, showcasing smooth vocal lines, complex and serene drums, and featuring guests Chayka Chursina on vocals and Zimon on bass, sounding dark from start to finish and, therefore, sending the desired message by the band. Dangerous Girls takes the band back to a heavier, more pounding sonority, with their guitar duo being on fire as well as Al and his rumbling bass, or in other words, this is a well-balanced hybrid of Progressive and Alternative Metal for admirers of the genre. The second to last blast of Grenouer’s rockin’ sounds comes in the form of Paranormal Star, sounding as whimsical and piercing as its name, placing it as another serious candidate to be part of their live setlists, whereas the last tune from Ambition 999 is a superb acoustic ballad entitled Alone in the Dark, which not only presents beautiful guitars and vocals, but its official video is amazingly obscure and captivating. Put differently, it might not be the usual electrified Grenouer we’re used to, but this somber, pensive side of the band is just as enfolding as their more regular sonority.

What are you waiting for to put your hands on 15 extremely well-crafted and energizing rock songs made in Russia? Simply go to the band’s official BandCamp page to grab your copy of the album, as well as to the Sleaszy Rider Records’ BandCamp or webstore, to iTunes or to Amazon, and keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for news, tour dates and more of their crisp rock music. As an already established and successful band in the world of heavy music, we can rest assured Grenouer are far from calling it quits, hoping that all of their future releases are just as good as the music found in Ambition 999 and that they proudly keep carrying the flag of Rock N’ Roll wherever they go.

Best moments of the album: Nevermind Tomorrow, Medicine Treats No Lies, Crimson Lines and Alone in the Dark.

Worst moments of the album: Back on Track and Chase the Sun.

Released in 2019 Sleaszy Rider Records

Track listing
1. Burnt to the Ground 3:30
2. Nevermind Tomorrow 3:32
3. One Day 4:15
4. Infinite Grace 4:07
5. Medicine Treats No Lies 3:25
6. Cure for the Lonely 2:37
7. Uncommon Faith 5:13
8. Back on Track 3:41
9. Universe of My Heaven 3:49
10. Crimson Lines 4:16
11. Chase the Sun 3:17
12. Ingenious Care 3:24
13. Dangerous Girls 4:08
14. Paranormal Star 3:10
15. Alone in the Dark 3:20

Band members
Andrey Ind – lead vocals
Dmitry Rubanovsky – guitars
Alexander Motor – guitars
Al Bolo – bass
Danny D – drums

Guest musicians
Chayka Chursina – female vocals on “Ingenious Care”
Zimon – bass on “Ingenious Care”

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