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Grayceon - This Grand Show CD (album) cover

THIS GRAND SHOW

Grayceon

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.96 | 15 ratings

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avestin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Promotional album received from XO Press, on behalf of Vendlus Records and Grayceon

A continuation

Grayceon's s/t album was one of my favourite releases of 2007; an album I got addicted to, drowned in, in love with. With its captivating sound, the Grayceon trio with their cello-guitar-drums made a deep impact, not only on me but on a wide audience as evidenced by the numerous positive reviews they've received. It is therefore not surprising that this, their second effort, released in 2008 is one of the year's most anticipated albums, not only by myself. They face a difficult task in this aspect; following up on what to is a stellar first release and a fabulous album in itself. Where would they go from here? Do they even need to go somewhere? Is repetition enough? Or do they need to evolve progress and offer us something new not heard on the first album? I personally was curious to see how they chose to go, and was trying to keep an open mind in that regard.

What do we get? The way I hear and see it, this is an album that continues in the lines of the first one, proceeds several steps beyond that one and delivers a tighter sounding band. It might not offer much new comparing to what we heard, but there are some novel ideas thrown in there (at various points in the songs Still The Desert and Sleep for instance). But as a whole, it will sound almost familiar; not the tunes, obviously, but the atmosphere, the sounds, the interplay of the guitar and electric cello, the melancholy of the music, the crushing riffs and the thundering drums.

I felt "at home" right away with the It Beings, And So It Ends, the opening track of the album. It sounds familiar in a heart warming way, as if you've reunite with a loved one that was gone for a long time. In fact it sounds as if it starts from the middle of a track in a way, as if they were interrupted at the end of the previous album (which is correct in a way, since it ended in a fade out). The hesitant-like notes of the guitar and the cello enveloping it re-introduce us to the band's sound, to that typical gloomy mood they produce, one which I personally adore. From this quiet, calm opening, the band builds up, in their now usual style, a fascinating musical tapestry made up of interchanging tempos and varying levels of aggression, interplay of the guitar and cello and dominant drum playing. Though it is the shortest track on the album, it is a dense and packed piece covering several emotional grounds.

It goes on and links with the second song, Still The Desert, without interference, which after a short intro, present the first vocals on the album, performed by Jackie and Max with their contrasting vocals, which mirrors the relationship between their instruments. While the music, or rather the sound and frame of mind, seem familiar, there is still the captivating element here that was present in their previous album; a sound that when I hear, I can't seem to want to let it go. As they progress and build up their song, making changes to their speed and direction and then resuming the original theme of the song, I can't help but be a prisoner to their music, gulping in every drop of note they're willing to give. Even though it is still a minimalistic lineup, being a trio, their sound, when one is willing to be submerged in it, is still grand and epic. They add some new touches with some faster sections in the longer songs, a background screaming (barely noticeable though) by Jackie (in Still The Desert) and an overall sense of trying to achieve a larger impact and effect on the listener this time.

Sleep, the longest song here at over 20 minutes may be the equivalent of Ride from their first album, starting in the same delicate way, gently offering the topic of the song; however it is, unlike Ride, more coherent, more structured and clearly presented. It is a powerful song, soon escalating its raw energy level and speed and one can start imagining what a ride this can be, being such a long track. Indeed Sleep is not a representative name for this song. About a third of the song in, they do a nice fade out and introduce a new section, opening without the drums, with the Max on the guitar providing the basis for Jackie to experiment a bit with her electric cello. A psychedelic segment, where Sleep seems a more appropriate title for (but boring it is not, unless you dislike such texture building), it even reminds me of Pink Floyd's middle segments in Echoes and Atom Heart Mother where the bands creates bizarre and unearthly sounds. The band resumes the main theme about 6 minutes later, first quietly and then burst out (still slowly though), heavy, thumping sludgy-like with Jackie singing "Don't close your eyes, don't go to sleep", and later on they pick on a more rhythmic pace, as if trying to prevent the listener from falling asleep by making more "noise". One particular thing that caught me in their first album was the magnificent melodies and vocal lines. This is also present here and the most notable example for me is in the song, Love Is (A Dream), where their voices are digitally morphed as they sing the wonderful chorus line.

The album ends with a quite upbeat, bouncy and fast song, the title track, This Grand Show Is Eternal. Clocking at a bit more than 5 minutes, this relatively short song, like the opener, gathers inside a pack of energy and several ideas inside a limited frame and is the most intense song in here.

This album seems to focus as much on creating haunting textures as it is on evoking emotions through the use of catchy and beautiful melodies. In this aspect, it is another step forward from the previous album, going more in the direction of harnessing the power of their instruments combined to create a new fused sound of this lineup of three.

Like the first album, this album, much like a good wine, needs to time to breathe in the open, to be listened to several times and to get absorbed in your hearing buds. For those who know the band, it will be quicker to do so. If you're new to the band, I suggest starting with their wonderful 2007 s/t effort, released on Vendlus Records and then move on to this one. If you know and loved that first album, don't hesitate and get this! Bottom line - Grayceon delivers another stunning album.

avestin | 4/5 |

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