Ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo put Grip Inc. together in the mid-'90s after leaving one of metal's most successful acts in order to better manage his personal life and expand his creative possibilities. Lombardo was idolized by fans and musicians in awe of the power, speed, and control he exhibited on the drum kit while with Slayer, and the more dynamic but still quite heavy music of Grip Inc. only enhanced the drummer's reputation as a true metal virtuoso. While Grip Inc. is clearly led by Lombardo, the group's records are much more than the percussion exercises some listeners might expect. Vocalist Gus Chambers and guitarist/producer Waldemar Sorychta each play essential roles in the band's creative process and manage never to get overrun on record by Lombardo's unstoppable, massive drumming. The group debuted in 1995 on Metal Blade Records with the release Power of Inner Strength. The most relentless collection of their career, this first offering displayed Lombardo's musical depth and commitment to power, while his bandmate's (including bassist Jason Viebrooks) deftly rode Lombardo's rhythmic wave like surfers gliding over gushing molten rock.
Grip Inc. followed up Power of Inner Strength with Nemesis in 1997. This follow-up definitely followed the formula established two years earlier, but with some added progressive flavor and a few quieter moments. In 1999, bassist Stuart Caruthers replaced Viebrooks and Solidify was released featuring the updated lineup. Aptly titled, the group's third disc is perhaps their most accomplished and ambitious work. Solidify certainly furthered Grip Inc.'s trend toward more progressive and exotic rhythms, structures, and instrumentations, while never compromising intensity. Sorychta's producing efforts on each of the three recordings deserves special mention. The guitarist's blistering riffs are equaled if not eclipsed by his impressive tones and mixes that have a strengthening affect on the group's aggressive metal. With their commitment to musical growth and a great instinct for pure heaviness, Grip Inc. are one of metal's best late-'90s musical treats. ~ Vincent Jeffries