Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giant Squid: Cenotes (2011)


As you may already know, Grayceon's latest album made my list of the Top 25 Metal Albums of 2011. After getting into that band, and learning more about cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz, I decided to check out her other current band, Giant Squid.

The first thing you might notice about the album cover, graced as it is by two fish-headed fertility goddesses. (As Phillip J. Fry once lamented, "Why couldn't you be the other kind of mermaid--the kind with the fish part on top and the lady part on the bottom?") Listening to it, I picked up bits and pieces that sounded like they were talking about marine biology. The lyric sheet shows it's marine biology as metaphor describing a woman, a child, or other things . . . . Yeah, I don't get it either.

Their musical approach makes just a little more sense. The record starts off with cello and clean vocals before a heavy, slow riff comes in. The guitar riffs tend to be intricate, suggesting a "progressive" tag, but they (like the cello and bass riffs) are repeated for hypnotic effect. Dynamic shifts between loud and quiet, heavy and soft, and male and female vocals attempt to keep things interesting.

The problem is, the hypnotic effect intended doesn't always work. Instead, it sometimes comes off as the band practicing the riff ad nauseam, just to get it right. The dynamic changes work well enough, but when you're not really immersed in the atmosphere, they aren't enough. And with an album that's so very dependent on atmosphere, it practically needs to be effective throughout the whole recording.

The Verdict: There are better atmospheric recordings out there, and even though cello is a nice touch, Cenotes doesn't stand out as anything really grand. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. grayceon made my top list, but only because All We Destroy was the album that put them on my map. their older work is much better (to me).

    but i've been a fan of Giant Squid since Metridium Fields. they were just straight up heavy back then. but Versus the Siren is the best song they've done, and it's just pretty. in fact, the best music they've made (other than Tongue Stones, which i think is flat out killer) is always the prettier stuff.
    The Ichthyologist was more meandery but had a really great track. they're a weird band--one i consider myself a "fan" of, yet one who have maybe a single album's worth of songs across their whole disco that i'd like to listen to.

    btw, if i understand it correctly, the singer/guitarist is the artist who did this (and i believe Grayceon's) artwork, as he is life-partnered to Jackie...and he is or was actually working in the field of Marine Biology, hence all the oceanographic-themed music.