Friday, April 08, 2011

Grayceon: All We Destroy (2011)


The Internet age lends itself to creating incredibly specific tastes in people. Famously, it does so for porn. But less obviously, it does the same thing for music. And I think I've developed an absurdly specific taste for avant-garde female-fronted metal bands featuring strings and signed to Profound Lore. That tells you a lot of what you need to know about Grayceon (and maybe more than you wanted to know about me). They are a trio: drummer, guitarist, and cellist/vocalist. All We Destroy is their third full-length.

All We DestroyThe unusual setup leads to the creation of some unique music. I hesitate to call it doom, although much of it is at a slower pace. The guitar and cello don't have clearly defined roles, each one weaving back and forth between rhythm and lead. The guitar riffs groove, while the cello riffs can pull on your heart like great classical music or rock your face like the good parts of Apocalyptica. With all these instruments do, the drums are wisely kept low-key, almost never drawing attention to themselves.

On top of the unusual music, Jackie Perez Gratz delivers unique vocals. She can scream like a wildcat, but her husky clean singing voice belongs in an evening gown, stretched across the top of a baby grand piano in some dimly lit jazz bar. Sometimes the two styles are overdubbed to very strange effect (see "Dreamer Deceived").

Unique music can easily fall into the trap of being too weird for its own good, but that is not the case here. "Shellmounds" is a particularly great track, but each song on the album is compelling. They're full of hooks as well as progressive elements, blending beautiful harmony, clean melodies, and heavy grooving riffs with expertise. And it's enhanced by great production that makes everything perfectly clear without robbing it of its soul: you can hear the bow scraping the cello, and even the vocals sound like a superb live recording.

The Verdict: This will certainly prove to be one of the most distinctive albums of the year, with music that's extraordinary in both meanings of the term. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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