Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Opening with a cut from a particularly vicious line from the 2003 movie Open Range, Crushed By The Wheels Of Progress sets it’s stall out early with snarling vocals spewing hate-filled lyrics. It all lies beneath a wall of the filthiest riff sludge and butt-clenching drum thunder heard since the murderous crush spewed out by the likes of Crowbar or High On Fire. With its swampy wash, Southern-tinged slowly dying open chords and thrash affectations it’s like listening to the gnarliest of Orange Goblin songs getting tortured into submission by the concrete fists of Snailking or the sonic blitzkrieg of Sepultura.
Having been beaten into a corner by the initial choking swathe of aggression and primitive lyricism, the maddeningly obtuse song construction struggles to extract the listener without walking itself down strange blind alleys. Take “Season’s End”. It contains no end of dropouts, kicks into double-time and oblique switches in key – it’s the aural equivalent of riding a three-legged horse that keeps falling over.
The eight-minute title-track builds up a pretty solid groove with a gritty chorus and digs out a sweet riff to sit alongside it. The guitar scrawl eventually picks up gifting us with a high degree of mania to wedge behind the acid-gargling vocal roar of Peter Clemens. Ramp up the volume on this beast if you want to really piss off those neighbours. Dig in further and they begin to hit a particularly evil streak as they rip into death metal territory with the deliciously dark “Spiral Stairs” inviting the headbangers to the party and the agonisingly base attack of “Before I Return To Dust” pulling the teeth straight from their Bay Area and Brazilian peers.
Yep, I bet they had a ball writing and recording this monstrous album, but sadly the end result isn’t pretty. Cast adrift somewhere between kicking the shit out of the stoner metal fringe and ramming deathly metal down the throats of the bad-ass rock n’ roll brigade, Yellowtooth will struggle to make friends with this. It’s fit to burst with macho angst and is ripped with nasty guitar lines but there’s very little that actually sticks in the memory banks. Yep, that sledgehammer did the trick, but I’m afraid that nut is dust.
Thursday, August 6, 2015
The track-titles suggest connections to the names of explorers of continents, rivers and even outer space. The tracks, however, struggle to marry up to my hypothetical concept (try the We Lost The Sea’s deeply-moving “A Gallant Gentleman” if you like the idea and require closure) so I realise I must stop. Diving back into Grayson then with an open mind then… Opener “Oates” crackles into life and slowly builds drawing on warm glossy tones, much like those that colour Skyharbor’s latest single “Evolution”, before releasing into “Ives” which heads deeper into the darker, choppier waters of other instrumental post-rockers like Russian Circles and Pelican. Here the yawning, melancholic backdrop stands in contrast to the driven groove which never quite allows it to get away or develop organically.
Happily, “Aldrin” does offer some evolving panic and heavy action before releasing into a sweet, repeating series of keyed strokes. Only here does it feel like any instrumental lead role is being taken to replace the absence of vocal colouring. The pattern of riffs visit several touch points and eloquently guide the listener along through a strong sequence of shoegaze and post-metal. “Ballack” follows suit in grinding out a darker path without ever quite finding its voice. And therein lies the problem with Grayson as a whole. It doesn’t engage or challenge the listener beyond those initial bursts.
Of course, I understand now why I felt a compulsion to create meaning within. Unguided, experiencing this EP felt like walking into a stranger’s room full of strange objects and even now, after the tenth play, it feels like a record without a mooring. It’s the lack of a lead element that has cast it adrift. Perhaps their future works will feature enough running time to invite true introspection and perhaps then a connection to the contents will follow more naturally.