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Consisting of four songs of widely varying length (from four minutes to twenty), Grayceon's formal debut is a darkly atmospheric record that embraces the stately, goth-tinged element in metal that has arguably always been there -- anyone thinking otherwise hasn't listened to early Black Sabbath often enough. The trio's members are drawn from Amber Asylum and Walken, but it's too simplistic to say that it's a combination of those bands; rather it's a gelling of separate aesthetics that often produces something uniquely striking. Hearing Jackie Perez Gratz's cello suddenly cut fiercely across the wired, marvelously dramatic drumming from Zack Farwell makes for pure thrills; interestingly, it's often the group's singing and Max Doyle's guitar which act as the steadying anchor in contrast. There's something very attractively early '70s about Grayceon's work, suggesting the more open horizons of what paths metal could yet take instead of the outwardly imposed stereotypes it found itself struggling with in later years. Opening song "Sounds Like Thunder" sets the tone beautifully, an epic in all but name at eight minutes, down to perfect split-second pauses and a final conclusive ascending arrangement. "Rise," the 20-minute song which concludes the album, takes this tendency to its logical limit, touching on everything from the calmest possible vocal/cello interplay to steady, doom-tinged propulsion to sheer mania and back again. Meantime "Song for You," the shortest one of the bunch, could be a lost Balkan dance song from earlier centuries with its nonstop speed and keening vocal swoops; it's a song that could easily be imagined as totally powerful without any amplification whatsoever -- and that's as metal as it gets. After so many dull variations on the "feedback plus orchestration" combination in the early 21st century, it's nice to hear a band that figures out a new approach exactly right.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 8:53 Amazon
2 3:54 Amazon
3 12:35 Amazon
4 19:59 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick