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´╗┐Grayceon - Grayceon - 2007 - Vendlus Records

Track Listing:
1. Sounds Like Thunder
2. Song For You
3. Into the Deep
4. Ride
Although their general approach may be familiar to a number of discerning heavy music fans, chances are Grayceon are still not quite like anything in your music collection. Featuring members of San Francisco groups Walken and Amber Asylum, this trio samples the metallic buzz of the former and the stark Gothicism of the latter to form a muted blend that retains its creative edge without ostentation. Although their self-titled LP is only four tracks, its prodigious length (45 minutes) and full packaging does qualify it as such.

The opener 'Sounds Like Thunder' leads with Grayceon's best qualities: Max Doyle's thoughtful guitar intertwined with the pensive cello of Jackie Perez Gratz to create a musical tapestry both soothing and subtly charged. At its best, the vocal interplay between these two mimics the timbre of their instruments in subdued, elegant polyphony.

One might at times wonder whether 'Grayceon' is metal at all, rather than prog rock or even post-rock. Arguably, it is any and all. However, each time that Doyle and Gratz wander off into a subdued instrumental, soon enough the aggressive fills of drummer Zack Farwell's come surging back again to accompany a newly distorted and more angular riff pattern from Doyle, and that heavier vibe does linger more often than any other.

For the most part, though, Grayceon tends towards some compromise of extremes, settling on a mood that is often melancholy but rarely mournful, 11:40 into 'Ride' being one of the few examples of the latter. (As it happens, 'Ride' is their most diverse song, with other passages sounding downright quaint--15:00--or like a quasi-thrash warm-up--17:00.) Largely instrumental, this first full-length allows itself plenty of room to develop its many themes, handling each carefully and never seeming too hasty. This will from time to time make following the overall theme of a song rather difficult, but the fact that these songs have such themes to follow is a success in itself. Many progressive and, it must be said, self-indulgent groups of this nature follow wherever their whims lead them, leaving both structural continuity and their audience behind. Not so, here, though, as 'Grayceon' is continually compelling.

Although Doyle and Gratz are the only two members providing melody, Grayceon always find a way to make their songs sound rich. This often does include the use of layering, but only one track of each instrument would still be more than sufficient with the melodies they have chosen. Farwell is also to be commended for his diverse and energetic use of the kit, which contributes greatly to this album's memorable vitality, but he can at times sound too eager or too loud. The other members do at times equal his intensity, particularly the semi-shouted moments from Gratz, but the overall feel of 'Grayceon' is more subdued than some of the band's demo recordings and toning down the drums in their mix, even if it is just by a notch, would make 'Grayceon' even more appealing.

And all in all, 'Grayceon' is remarkably consistent, particularly for a debut outing. Although Walken appear to be a fairly new group, Gratz's extensive connections and experience in the San Francisco scene bring legitimacy to any project, which in this case is well deserved. If Grayceon continue upon their present path, they will be welcomed by music lovers across all traditions and help overturn the foolish notion that music must be muzak to appeal to a wide audience. Indeed, if more bands were playing with the earnest focus of Grayceon, elevator jazz would be a blunder long forgotten.



Rating: 3.5



--Etiam
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



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GrayceonGrayceon
2007
Etiam8/17/2007


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