Grim Reaper’s See You In Hell was released in 1983 by Ebony Records in the United Kingdom. Founded by Darryl Johnston in 1982, Ebony Records can be considered a late-to-the-party NWOBHM label that operated on a very low-budget, and released albums that sounded every bit as dirt cheap as they actually were. Johnston produced See You In Hell himself, and the album was recorded and mixed in just three days. Somehow and someway, Johnston was actually able to license the album to a major label, RCA Records, who released the album in the United States (in 1984). This had to be one of the more unlikely British metal records to garner a wide-spread U.S. release. Even more shocking was that See You In Hell actually charted in the top 100 on the Billboard album charts!
Considering the legions of NWOBHM bands that never got anywhere in the business, Grim Reaper’s story has to be considered a remarkable success. They never got rich, and they certainly never became stars, but they got on MTV and moved a few records in the U.S., which puts them head and shoulders above all but a handful of similar scrap metal bands of the day.
See You In Hell is a straightforward, cliché riddled record that’s as sooty as Santa’s boots, and twice as grimy as a hobo’s beard. The overall sound is a murky mess. Yet, See You In Hell is not without its charm. The album’s opener is the title track, See You In Hell, and is easily my favorite Reaper track of all time (they released three albums in their career). In case you didn’t know the name of the song, vocalist Steve Grimmett repeats the title 39 times during the song’s four plus minutes… yes, I counted! But the song has a catchy riff and a sweet solo, and is just a simple headbang all the way. After hearing See You In Hell, you’ve pretty much heard it all as far as Grim Reaper is concerned. The rest of the album stays true to the formula of the title track, with similar riffing, song-titles-as-choruses-repeated-ad nauseum, drumming that doesn’t always keep time, and Steve Grimmett’s banshee wails. Years later, Grim Reaper were eviscerated by Beavis and Butt-Head, an unfortunate circumstance for a band that battled hard in the NWOBHM trenches (they once beat out 99 other bands in a battle of the bands, which eventually led to their record contract with Ebony). This isn’t a great album in my opinion, but I think Grim Reaper deserves a little respect for being there in the thick of it all. See you in hell my friends. I’ll be the guy in the Whitesnake shirt. My score: B-