ALBUMS THAT WILL F*CK YOUR FACE OFF IN 2011: GRAYCEON, ALL WE DESTROY
All We Destroy
Label – Profound Lore
Release Date – March 1, 2011
To quote a Coalesce album title, there is nothing new under the sun. Wait, shit – that was actually a passage from Ecclesiastes. See what I mean? Forty-odd years since metal’s birth, it’s tough to innovate beyond folding in a genre or influence that you wouldn’t think would work in metal. While I don’t believe that “originality” always trumps craftsmanship and verve in importance, I do miss the early days of my metal listenership, when everything sounded new to my virgin ears (as opposed to my current whore ears).
That’s why I was so stoked to have my face first fucked off by San Francisco’s Grayceon, around the time their self-titled debut came out on Vendlus a few years back. Here was a band that was unique through and through. You don’t find many metal bands with a female lead singer that refuses to play the siren role in some dork’s maiden-rescuing fantasy LARP. You’ll find even fewer bands with a cello as a lead instrument, and even fewer than that which utilize finger-picked electric guitar. Grayceon feature all three. More important than those eyebrow-raising bullet points, Grayceon make a wholly new music, one that grafts medieval cadences and the pastoral textures of early British prog onto a bedrock of supremely headbangable, ornate riffing. And there are no seams. Grayceon make metal, yes (and amazingly heavy metal at that), but they draw equally on …And Justice for All as they do Guillaume de Machaut.
here or here). In the two and a half minutes before the vocals kick in, we’ve already got a folksy guitar/cello duet for an aperitif, a fucking phenomenal central riff, and some of the most propulsive skinsmanship I’ve heard in ages from drummer Zack Farwell (also in Walken). Cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez-Gratz (also a member of Giant Squid ) sings the most memorable, heartbreaking melody of Grayceon’s career, and the crunch-ometer readings from guitarist Max Doyle (also in Walken) during the song’s last minute are unbearably high.
I’m lucky enough to have heard the rest of All We Destroy, and can confirm that it’s easily the band’s finest hour (or 51 minutes, to be more precise). While they’re working with the same general parameters as always, the advancements are many. Denser arrangements with some tasteful overdubbing, heavier/darker riffing, a touch of cathartic screaming, the most dynamic production Grayceon’s had by a long shot (seriously, listen to those drums on headphones), and the band’s strongest batch of songs to date. Here’s hoping that the jump to the über-respectable Profound Lore label will help Grayceon find many thousands of new faces to fuck off. Go listen to them. This band deserves your ears.
Photo by Daryl Darko
If you’re planning to be in San Francisco on February 11th, go to Grayceon’s record release show at Bottom of the Hill and get a copy of All We Destroy for free!