Grayceon – All We Destroy

A band largely defined by their running vocal harmonies and heavy use of cello in their sludge metal sound, Grayceon have certainly turned heads with their self-titled debut, and dramatic follow-up ‘This Grand Show’. With recent collaborations with such bands as Giant Squid and Agalloch under their frontwoman’s belt, the band was already fairly established within post-metal circles before the release of their third, latest work ‘All We Destroy’. Doing what a good follow-up should, the third album builds upon its predecessors by adding a few new layers to their already unique sound. Although the band still has their weaknesses to contend with, it is clear that Grayceon’s strikingly distinctive sound is the best thing they have going for them.

Concise metal drumming, crushing downtuned riffs and organic string sections make up the core of Grayceon’s sound. Instrumentally, the band has always been able to create a very distinct voice for themselves that screams their name almost instantly. In a music world now filled with all too many copycats, it is to the band’s great credit that they have a unique sound to them. When it comes to actually channeling this sound properly however, the results can be mixed at times. Although Grayceon is in no dearth of intelligence when it comes to their keen and surprisingly technical music, there are moments in ‘All We Destroy’ where the talent still feels unharnessed and too raw for its own good. Among these would be the drawn out instrumentations of the seventeen minute sweeping track ‘We Can’, which get a tad too indulgent, almost to the point where the doomy riffs and atmosphere is leading nowhere. Be that as it may, Grayceon remain masters of dynamic, and their contrast between warm post-rock sections and sludgy heaviness has never been stronger. Better yet, each of Grayceon’s members are represented equally here in the mix, which only adds to the existing dimension.

An issue I’ve had with Grayceon that has often kept me at bay from considering myself a fan of the band are the vocals which play overtop the clever musicianship. The dual singing and running male-female harmonies that were so prevalent on the debut really turned me off; while not being necessarily unpleasant, they felt somewhat aimless and did not feel as if they complimented the rest of the music properly. Fortunately, Grayceon’s lead singer (and cellist) Jackie Perez-Gratz has upped her vocal chops here, and the dual singing gimmick has been greatly moderated, to the point where it can actually accentuate parts instead of making the vocal element in Grayceon feel monotonous. She has a distinctive lower female range, and the tone of the voice itself works well in tandem with the downtuned guitars and cello. However, the vocal melodies themselves often feel somewhat lackluster, especially in the heavier moments. The opener ‘Dreamer Deceived’ revolves around a recurring vocal theme by Gratz that holds little weight to it, and can get a little irritating by the end. On the other hand, the vocal moments of the more subtle tracks ‘Once A Shadow’ and ‘War’s End’ are nearly angelic.

The highlight here is- without a doubt- ‘Shellmounds’, which was released a short while before the album itself came out. It features Grayceon at what sounds like their tightest; beautifully intentioned post-rock passages, thrashy riffing, wonderful dynamic, and a sense of moderation that is simply masterful. While much of the album does not reach this level of perfection that ‘Shellmounds’ sets out, it becomes more difficult to ignore the sombre majesty of the band’s sound with each new listen. ‘All We Destroy’ has its fair share of flaws, but it’s the towering strengths of Grayceon’s tact and sound which make the album an excellent one.

Tracklist:

1. Dreamer Deceived (6:21)
2. Shellmounds (8:53)
3. We Can (17:00)
4. Once A Shadow (7:22)
5. A Road Less Traveled (4:11)
6. War’s End (7:09)

Line-up:

* Jackie Perez Gratz – electric cello, vocals
* Max Doyle – guitar, vocals
* Zack Farwell – drums

Links:

http://www.grayceon.com/

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