Greece’s Thessaloniki is one of the best cities in underground scene the for new music. A city of about 300,000 located five hours north of Athens, Thessaloniki is home to bands like Honeybadger and Narcosis, as well as standout record labels like Made of Stone Recordings.
Now add Grande Fox to the list. Formed in 2013, the four-piece describe their style as “Space Psychedelic Stoner Heavy Rock,” but that’s only scratching the surface. On their previous record (Space Nest), Grande Fox’s channeled bands like Metallica and Corrosion of Conformity, and their latest album, Empty Nest (released February 19, 2021), shows the band embracing the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Monster Magnet, and The Quill from Sweden.
Empty Nest is often unpredictable, and its various influences and intricate musicianship keep it exciting from one song to the next.
About Grande Fox
Like Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down, Grande Fox exists to give a voice to the voiceless. Militant and rebellious, Grande Fox aims to bring light to the darkness and offer a path to success, respect, and honor.
The members of Grande Fox are:
- Lefteris Zaoskoufis – Guitar
- Nick Berzamanis – Vocals
- Dimitris Loukas – Drums
- George Chaikas – Bass
All of the songs for Empty Nest were recorded at Blueberry Productions and mixed and mastered by Marcos Rodriguez.
‘Empty Nest’ Album Review
Track One: Backstab
“Backstab” sets the pace for the rest of the album, opening on pounding drums, pulsing bass, thick guitars, and guttural vocals. With the delivery of its pulsing power chords, “Backstab” is the first glance of Empty Nest’s nod to The Quill’s Tiger Blood. Whether that connection was intentional or not, you’ll hear plenty of Tiger Blood throughout this album.
Track Two: Rottenness of Youth
On “Rottenness of Youth,” we really start to see Nick Berzamanis’ vocal range. Channeling the likes of Zach del la Rocha in his rhythmic delivery, scratchy shouts, and harsh whispers, Nick Berzamanis calls to mind Zach de la Rocha’s vocals on “Killing in the Name.”
Track Three: Hangman
“Hangman” kicks off with an acoustic intro and more of Nick Berzamanis’ spoken/whispered vocals. The tension builds and builds until there is an incredibly satisfying drop. Because of the song’s seamless blending of rapping techniques and acoustic approach, “Hangman” is one of the most interesting and memorable moments on the entire album.
Track Four: Golden Ratio
“Golden Ratio” roars to life with a guitar riff that could have been plucked right from the hands of Tom Morello. In fact, the song eventually leads to a couple of sections that rely heavily on a scratching technique, similar to the one used in the solo for Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls On Parade.”
Track Five: Deathblow
“Deathblow” begins with a sort of Industrial Metal rumble, followed by one of Nick Berzamanis’ patented yells. “Deathblow” is haunting and unsettling, relying on a heavy bass line and shrill guitar notes to create unease. Like many tracks on Empty Nest, “Deathblow” is another good demonstration of Grande Fox’s sonic range.
Track Six: Overdose
The first half of “Overdose” is a powerful rocker, riding along an intense guitar riff you might find from a band like Pantera. Here, Nick Berzamanis relies on an awesome couplet in the chorus:
Come face to face with your god
And find out what you really are!
Eventually, “Overdose” breaks down into a terrifying midpoint, perhaps allowing us to enter our own overdose experience.
Track Seven: Brainstorm
“Brainstorm” picks up in the same wave of reverberating guitars that “Overdose” concludes in. In many ways, “Brainstorm” feels like it would be aptly named “Overdose,” especially with its chaotic vocal effects and unsettling delivery. Although “Brainstorm” isn’t an instrumental track, it feels like it’s intended to be one—as a sort of mid-album palette cleanser to give the listener a small reprieve before the second half of the album.
Track Eight: Brutal Colors
As the most experimental song on the album, “Brutal Colors” is cloaked in mystery everywhere outside its heavy, Black Sabbath-inspired choruses. Although it’s not the most exciting song on Empty Nest, it’s intriguing enough to keep you listening.
Track Nine: Route 99
Instrumentally aggressive and defiant, “Route 99” showcases a certain level of swagger that’s accented by its layered vocals.
It’s also worth noting that Grande Fox had a “Route 66” on its Space Nest (2016) album. Thematically, these tracks do share some similarities. “Route 66” is about finding peace through destruction—with some hints at peace through self-destruction. In “Route 99,” the traveling speaker seems to have accepted his fate, and now he’s off to express how difficult life really is.
Track Ten: Manganite
“Manganite” kicks off with all of the chugging of later Alice In Chains—but that connection is short-lived. For most of its duration, “Manganite” is actually a pretty slow song, and it’s relatively lithe compared to the rest of Empty Nest.
Track Eleven: Birth of an Embryo
By the time I reached “Birth of an Embryo,” I was ready for another banger. Instead, the concluding track opens on a softer note. At least, the song is soft until it gets through the first verse. “Birth of an Embryo” features some of the best lines on the album, like “Frantically sound trumpets of renaissance” and “Time won’t help as karma has no deadline.”
As far as album closers go, “Birth of an Embryo” is a strong one.
Final Score: 8.5
Standout Tracks: “Rottenness of Youth,” “Hangman,” and “Golden Ratio”
Pros: Although the ties back to Rage Against the Machine are obvious, the members of Grande Fox are smart enough and talented enough to develop something all their own. This is an album that channels the Rap Metal of the ’90s and early 2000s without committing to it, balancing their rhythmic lyrical delivery with massive, intricate guitars. You’ll hear just as much Monster Magnet and The Quill in here as you will Rage, and that makes Empty Nest a balanced album with plenty to love.
Cons: If you hate Nu Metal, this will be a difficult listen. Beyond that, Empty Nest sags from a lack of movement in some areas, which reduces the album’s memorability. “Brainstorm” and “Brutal Colors” (tracks seven and eight) are interesting songs in their own right, but they lack the hard-hitting delivery and catchy hooks of “Backstab” or “Rottenness of Youth.” That makes the third quarter of the album a bit of a snooze fest after the first listen, and you might even skip over them if you’re only listening to Empty Nest for its heavier tracks.