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Grayceon Grayceon album cover
3.79 | 36 ratings | 9 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2007

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sounds Like Thunder (8:53)
2. Song for You (3:54)
3. Into the Deep (12:35)
4. Ride (20:00)

Total Time 45:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Max Doyle / guitar, vocals
- Zack Farwell / Drums
- Jackie Perez Gratz / electric cello, vocals

Releases information

Vendlus Records, Vend 021

Thanks to avestin for the addition
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GRAYCEON Grayceon ratings distribution

(36 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

GRAYCEON Grayceon reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Taking the progressive metal genre one step further.

Grayceon are one of the newer prog acts that came out in these recent years that stay true to the progressive rock sound without doing anything that has been done before. This characteristic reminds me of the symphonic prog band Deluge Grander in the sense that they bring new ideas to the table without alienating the listeners.

This is perhaps the first time I've seen a line-up like this in a prog metal genre. Here we have a trio of guitar, drums and a cello! It may look strange on paper, but the cello adds so much more to the sound that it wouldn't be Grayceon if it didn't had it and more if we're talking about Jackie Perez Gratz who has been in bands like Amber Asylum, Giant Squid and contributed with bands like Neurosis and others. The instruments blend evenly and beautifully to create their eloquent and elegant style of progressive "metal". None of the members try to show off. They sound like a single unit and that's one of the good qualities the band has. Also, they don't use effects of some sorts and this gives the album an organic and concrete feel.

The songs very alot in mood and tempo, but they always have a certain theatric feel thanks to the cello and the wonderful vocal duet of Jackie and guitarist Max Doile. Although the vocal parts aren't the main focus in their music it certainly adds to the overall feel and mood of the album. Their music in the longer songs (3/4 of the whole album) flow smoothly while going through various themes and tempo changes without sounding jagged or pasted. Also, even in their heavier parts these guys still sound bearable for people who don't normally listen to metal, but at the same time they get their feelings across nicely. From the mournful moments with the soft guitar and cello to the rabid moments with the drummer, Zack, giving all he's got., Grayceon has no problem showing us what they want us to see and feel. All is done with a certain finesse to it that makes it even more enjoyable. The highlight of the album is definitely their 20 minute epic (the only word suited to describe this wonderful composition) "Ride". It's really amazing how a simple trio with no more than one instrument each and no effects of sorts can makes this song so colorful and vivid. It's thrilling, full of life, marvelously composed and expressive.

Trying to write their sound in paper isn't an easy task, but the emotions I get while listening to this can be clearly seen. This is easily one of the best releases of this year. People who aren't normally into progressive metal should really give Grayceon a try and also everyone who's looking for the ones stretching progressive rock farther, Grayceon are one of the bands making it happen. I won't give this album a 5 stars now only because for me to give it the highest rating it needs to stand the test of time, but I won't feel bad giving it a 4.9.

Innovation at its finest.

Review by avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album has very quickly leaped into my favourite albums list. Not the typical progressive metal, so don't be deterred. Read on to know more.

It is thanks to Ruben (Chamberry) that I got to know this band. Listening to their Mysapce samples, I ordered it through The End Records mail order service (The Omega Mail Order) along with their friends and tour mates (and a band that Jackie played with) Giant Squid (look for their band here in PA).

I wish there was something different I could listen to, something to have my brain listen to and get away from all the ruckus of everyday life, the stress and anxieties and drift upwards to some other place. Thankfully, there are bands like Grayceon to help us achieve just that. Obviously there are other great bands that do just that (and I have several favourite bands which so just that), but with Grayceon I get a different experience, a combination of elements from various sounds/influences/sources to create a sound of their own, a marriage of rawness and subtleness, compositions that have freedom to evolve in several directions.

Only 3 musicians here, yet the music in this album is full, rich, filled with a vast array of emotions, delivering mesmerizing musical textures which are at times aggressive and raw and at other times soft and delicate. Grayceon is a talented trio of Jackie Perez Gratz (electric cello, vocals), Zack Farwell (drums) and Max Doyle (guitars, vocals). They have been compared in sound but mostly in spirit to several bands, but it would not do justice with their music to do so, as they manage to be in a position where it's a difficult task to describe their music. It can be said that it draws influences from several sources/bands, but their sound is all their own.

While only containing four tracks, tracks 1, 3 & 4 are rather lengthy and track 4 can even be considered an epic in length and structure of the track. Track 2 is sort of the antithesis of those other three songs, but it is still very much in line with the album, albeit much heavier, more aggressive and rapid. The other three tracks have a more dominant contemplative spirit, which doesn't mean it does not get much more energetic throughout the song.

Grayceon offers appealing flavours for different and varying tastes. Some post-rock textures, some sludgy-metal (but of a lighter flavor than others in this field), some good old crunchy riffs of metal (with the occasional drum beat that remind me of the heavier side of metal), and great epics which are amplified in their effect by the magnificent use of the cello by Jackie and the vocal harmonies of Jackie and Max Doyle. The cello and guitar are used both as background and as solo instruments together and alone, which is another interesting aspect of their sound. They have the ability to create compelling music, long epic tracks with mesmerizing textures and vocal harmonies, alternating between a soft sound to a rapid and even raw sounding part in which the drums go wild.

With the tracks in this s/t album, you go on a "Ride" (as is one of the song titles) which passes through different emotional states between tracks and within a track (melancholy, pensive, rage and whatever else the music conjures in your mind). The songs, except for Song For You, start off calmly, with the guitar acoustically feeling the surface, as if testing whether the area is clear and it can begin to get louder, playing seemingly unrelated notes, trying to formulate a tune. And as you listen to the album more times, you realize that it is all pre-thought of, and they pretty much know where they are going, and that these are not totally random played notes, and they lead the way to the main theme or themes (as happens in Ride and Into The Deep). It develops (mostly slowly) into the bigger picture (meaning the main theme of the music) with big emphasis on the melody and the vocals which accompany it at times. This is where the majestic touch is prevalent. If you take Into The Deep, what can be seen as the chorus part is made of the guitar and cello playing together an ascending repetitive pattern later followed by Jackie's high and delicate voice in a descending pattern that balances the previous part. The guitar has a Crimsonian (as in King Crimson) sound and style here (Red-era) as opposed to the more metallic sound in other parts. I must say this description does not do justice with the music, but it's the best I can do with my limited verbal skills (or rather lack of them). While the long 3 tracks have this majestic feel when coming to their occasional chorus, Grayceon has a raw and free spirit feel to them, which are probably due to the 3 instrument lineup, their unique sound. This freedom feel, is one attribute I love about their music. I feel that the music is such that it can develop in multiple ways, play in opposite and contradicting manners and cover a vast array of musical "fields". This is why I am very eager to hear where they will go next in future endeavours. The music goes beyond metal and rock, takes what elements it needs from both and moves on, progresses further. Therefore, the term progressive is most suitable. The end result is compelling, engaging and most of all, beautiful.

The future seems bright for the band, and it is very interesting to hear how their next album will be like. For now, we can rejoice with this excellent release which is more than just an excellent addition to your music and "prog" collection.

Review by Prog-jester
5 stars Close to perfection - 4.5

Three-piece band – drums, cello+female vocals, guitar+male vocals – creates amazing music. No overdubs (hence they sound a bit vast, a bit minimalistic for those who got used to layered Symphonic Prog structures or loads of Post-Rock noises), no over- the-edge showing-up textures and solos (they are pretty Post-Metal-like in nature), no usual “metalhead” attitude. All three play in their own recognizable styles, with fiery drumming, solid guitar background riffs and gentle arpeggios and screaming/weeping cello solos. Just to give you an idea how this can sound like, imagine a mixture of OPETH, TOOL, INDUKTI, GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR and PELICAN that sounds like all the aforementioned bands altogether and in the same time has its own UNIQUE voice! Very promising debut, and I’d definitely like to hear from these two guys and a wonderful girl. This one will definitely make my Top- 10 in 2007 along with ANEKDOTEN, THE GOURISHANKAR, APPLE PIE and THE WATCH. Highly recommended for anyone who’s into melancholic music, a bit heavy but always melodic. Fans of above-mentioned bands MUST have GRAYCEON in their collections for sure.

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Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Yet another wonderful, unique progressive metal album for 2007. The year has been rich with impressive submissions from Devin Townsend, Dream Theater, Symphony X, and others, but Grayceon more than hold their own on this stunning debut. The first thing you notice about the band is that it only has three members, a guitarist, a cellist, and a drummer. They also use sparse overdubs, if any at all. However, the sound is so rich and full you'd swear this had been layered more than a Queen album.

The music effortlessly combines riffy metal with the more texture-oriented post-rock. The use of the electric cello over a bass guitar only adds to the richness of the guitar, as the two blend seamlessly and propel the music with lush soundscapes that give way to the occasional riff. The drummer, Zack Farwell, does an excellent job of balancing the two aspects of the band's sound. He can switch from the minimalistic beats of post-rock to some borderline flashy metal skin bashing. The music hinges upon him as much as it does the constantly changing movements of the strings.

Of the four tracks, three are lengthy journeys through every possible mood of music. The other, Song For You, is a shorter number that stands out for its aggressiveness. It is the most metallic track on the album, though metal bits pop up on every track. Sounds Like Thunder opens the album with an incredible slow build that sets the mood for the album. This flaunts the band's post-rock credentials while at the same time adding great vocal harmonies between Max and Jackie that set them apart from other post-rock groups like Explosions in the Sky. While post-metal is nothing new, Grayceon mix things up by incorporating clssic metal aspects into the music, like riffs. It isn't simply down-tuned post-rock. Into the Deep builds from a soft acoustic intro (which is how the other two big songs start) to a killer metal section that reminds me of Ayreon at its riffiest moments. Ride is one of the most apt titles ever, as the song is a voyage through the peaks and troughs of the band's soundscapes. It is simultaneously magnanimously grandiose and ferociously raw. It's as if the band's talent is conflicting with the fact that the are just forming.

This is a group to watch out for. They bring a sophistication and chemistry that many established prog metal acts would be hard-pressed to match, let alone exceed. In a year already clogged with more standout releases than I can count, Grayceon effectively place themselves at the top of the heap. I will be very interested to see where the band goes from here.

Grade: B+

Review by ProgBagel
4 stars Grayceon - Grayceon 4.5 stars

This is definitely on my list for the top of 2007. If only my favorite currently active band didn't release an album this year (FoaBP).

For just a three piece, you get the feeling there is a much bigger band at work here. Even on top of that, there is not too much overdubbing of the sort. The band is made up of Jackie Perez Gratz on electric cello and vocals from the band Giant Squid, Max Doyle on guitars and vocals and finally Zack Farwell on drums. Notice that there is no bassist; the guitar and cello cover for it all too well.

The way to describe the sound is nearly impossible. This band has created many different sounds in such a few amounts of tracks. You can hear influences in this release from bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Indukti and King Crimson to name a few. In terms of the actual music, there is jazz progressions, a bit of classical feel, really chunky guitar riffs, vocal harmonies, finger-picked arpeggios (guitar), post-rock, minimalism, a little bit of folk provided by the cello and just traces of metal done by the guitar.

The drums accompany the music all too well. Zack Farwell was able to give nearly minimalist beats during the quieter moments to implementing great fills and some double-bass adding chaos in the more furious moments.

The album contains just 4 songs. 3 of them feature Grayceon's typical style while the 2nd track called 'Song For You', the shortest track, doesn't implement many moods or change in sound which was fine anyway. It had a great middle-eastern vibe to it that reminded me of Orphaned Land in some of their tracks. Other then that tracks 1, 3, 4 and are fairly long (8:41, 12:35 and 19:57 respectively) that are the some of the most progressive tracks done in this day and age (in my humble opinion).

Nobody has yet to give this piece of work less then 4 stars, showing that this is collectively excellent. If you want some innovative work and musicians that have their mindset on extending the boundaries of post-rock/metal or just music in general, then look no further. Excuse my language, but hurry the hell up for another album in 2008, which I will enthusiastically wait for. An excellent album, 4.5 stars easily.

Review by sleeper
4 stars When a band releases a debut album, we can all but hope that they will show us real flashes of talent, whether that be in an impressive show of technical ability, complex and intelligent yet constantly grabing composition, thoughtful songwriting or a true sense of uniqueness. What Grayceon offer here is, nearly, all of these in plenty and bringing in a sense of adventure to boot.

Though in jazz circles a guitar/drum/cello trio is hardly anything new or really worthy of crowing about for its own sake (the people playing the instruments could be a very different matter, though), its very much unusual in rock and metal. And its this exchanging of bass for cello that partly leads to a very unique sound for the band. What you get is a very technically proficiant performance with a low end that sounds mournful, yet rich in a way that a bass has never produced, or at least not one that I've ever heard. You quickly realise within a few minutes of Sounds Like Thunder starting that rhythm is another point of difference from other bands, all three get stuck into the melody as well as powering into the rhythm, and it is very powerful music. Its played fast and hard, but not without feeling or subtlety when required, with the three musicians skiping about from rhythm to melody and back again ina very controlled manner drawing you in an attempt to listen to what they are all doing indavidually as well as the whole with there never being a dull minute. Jackie Perez-Gatz electric cello playing takes a large roll in this with it double tracked to sound like a violin on several occaisons, to great effect.

Theres no fault to be found with the musicians here, each of them plays their selected instrument with real gusto and feel to a level of technicallity that cant help but leave your jaw hanging open, without ever sounding contrived. As for the sound of the band, versatility is a strong point with guitarist Max Doyle, the aformention celloist Perez-Gatz and drummer Zack Farwell being equelly rhythmic and melodic leading to the music being very dense to listens too at first but with an intensity that never fades, not on the fifth or fiftieth listen.

From the length of the four songs on this album you can clearly see that Grayceon are a band that are very much a fan of the epic, and the music certainly attains epic proportion here, but you could be fogiven for thinking that Song for You is an attempt at a pop song, God knows they wouldnt have been the first band to try that trick, but you'ed be very wrong. Its a short blast of what seems to be almost Romany folk music played by an unusual metal band that slips into captivating riffing that guids you out of the song, mainstream it is not. The longer songs arent as stand out-ish in that they dont have completely different styles to them, but they are different to each other. Sounds Like Thunder is just that, a raucus, powerfully intense song that starts off dark and ominusly but explodes into action. Into the Deep is an appreaciably calmer song ebbs and flows for its entire duration, but never less captivating than its more explosive openers. And finally, The Ride holds aspects from all three and weaves them together to produce a final of epic proportion.

So, if I love the album so much, why only 4 stars? Well, the biggest reason is the vocals. To be perfectly honest they are very poor, to the point were I think the album would have been better served being almost entirely instrumentel, though they actually work on Song for You, to a degree. However, since vocals only take up only a small proportion of the album anyway they dont get in the way of my enjoyment. I also cant help get the feeling that its a little too short at 45 minutes, they need a nother song here, whether it be five or fifteen minutes wouldnt have mattered, they just needed another song on here. I'm also holding back in the beliefe that they can do even better on thier second album, after all, dont bands grow and improve from their debut?

In closing, this is an excellent album, allways heavy but not allways metal, very technical but not laking in subtlety or feeling with no weak tracks or even weak parts to tracks, yet a bit on the short side and with forgetable vocals. The major highlite for me here is the opener, Sounds Like Thunder, whih has ingrained itself into my conscience, but the following three tracks are not far behind. 4.5 stars rounded down to 4 because its not quite a masterpiece, but demands to be heard.

Review by Dim
3 stars To be honest, I this album was bordering two stars for me, though great musicianship, and some spectacular moments, you only keep interest in a ten minute guitar, cello, drum jam session for so long. This young band has seen its share of post metal glory, especially the cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez, who has played in multiple post metal bands, such as Giant squid, and neurosis (to name a few). So when I was told she was playing full time on this one, I was very eager to scope the album out, and I must say I have mixed feelings.

The album definitely starts on a positive note, with a memorable cello riff, with the overwhelming drums pummeling afterwards, but I must say, the most impressive aspect of the music is the contrast of he vocals. Jackie has an archetypal choir like vocal style, while Doyle has a very sharp, and otherwise boring voice. Neither of their voices are fit for a lead part, so whenever the vocals come up, they both harmonize pretty much every time, creating this awesome contrast, completely unique to this band, upping the energy, and interest. Like I said, everyone in this group is talented, The drummer is absolutely furious, and he reminds me of Mike Giles on ItCotCK, the guitar, and the cello, and guitar cooperate great together, but either way you slice it up, it's a forty five minute long album with only four songs. All the songs follow the same trend, singing than an excessively long jam session, and you just simply cant do that in a twenty minute epic, there's no way I could keep focus through the song Ride.

I admire that the band is trying to start off their career with a very experimental, and different album, but you have to know your limits. Sure if they added more dynamics to the music, like a string section, or keyboards, or hell, even an electric bass, maybe the jam sessions wouldn't get so stale, sadly, not the case. Also I cant see this band move on to different types of music, I can see the rest of their albums being the same thing, following the same formula, but what choice do they have with only three instruments and vocals?

2.7 stars

Review by Moatilliatta
2 stars Somebody get these guys money and a bass player ASAP!

Grayceon is an extremely promising band; they have a unique sound - you'll hear a fresh take on post- metal that is more energetic and, strangely so, stylistically closer to King Crimson than Isis most of the time - and a bunch of great ideas/riffs. The cello/guitar interplay is very competent and tasteful and the drumming is powerful. But what is the deal with this band's lack of a bass player? Bass is an integral part of music, rock music especially. The guitar isn't deep enough to carry the low end when the cello is playing a lead part, the bowed cello can't lock into a groove with the drums when the guitar is playing lead, and certainly nothing will be able to carry the low end when the guitar and cello are playing together. The music has an overall quality, but it just feels like there is something missing most of the time. The worst case is when the group forays into the metallic side of their work. The instruments are tuned down, but deep distorted power chords are never a good supplement for the clean single-note punches delivered by the bass (unless there are layers of the and/or the guitars have 8 strings like Meshuggah). And from what I've heard, they aren't even looking for a bass player! This means one of thwo things: either they are obstinately refusing to have a bass in their group for some reason, be it that they want to experiment with this guitar/cello/drum trio set-up, they are just trying to be different, or something else (regardless, I'll have to disagree with their motives), or their personalities are just so repulsive that they can't get one to join them (which I would find hard to believe, not to mention that I would not pass such negative judgement on them without having met). I'm pretty bent on the bass here, but it's possible that a different instrument might work out as well.

The next issue is recording quality. It is poor. The mix is a little muddy, and the sound is too raw and simply isn't thick enough. Now that will bring me back to the bass issue again, but I shall not restate myself. What I will say, though, is that they might even want to consider recording multiple guitar and/or cello tracks strictly to carry the would-be bass duties. They can probably make due without a bassist live, but in the studio, something needs to be there. I'm not sure if the group wanted to sound so raw and unadulterated, if you will, but frankly, technological aid really helps make an album shine. You can tell nothing [noticeable] was done to the vocals. I don't even think they added any reverb. The guy/girl vocal combos are almost always a delight, and here is no exception, but there are pitch issues that went uncorrected and the vocals have no color. They are pretty dull. The melodies themselves were well-written, but the performance leaves more to be desired. Maybe they realized this and that's why the vocal tracks aren't on top of the music in the mix, which is generally a big no-no. I know that this is a budget issue though. They are a new band on an independent label. Of course I can't hold that against them, but lets face it, a well-produced album of comparable quality will be the one that you choose to listen to a majority of the time.

I wish I had more specific postives to note, but I can't pinpoint any portions of the album where the band rises to near-glorious peaks. You can blame that on my not having listened to this enough to know exactly, but unfortunately the ever-present weaknesses of this album have formed a tough, thick membrane around the strengths which I have not the desire nor willpower to penetrate to fully discover. But don't get me wrong, as negative as this review is, the album is not bad. As I stated earlier, this band is reeking of potential, and I am making the choice to wait on the unlocking of that potential before I start listening to this band, and I am going to recommend the same choice to everyone. Don't forget about this band completely, but don't bother too much with them right now. I do think this band should get picked up by a decent label so that they can afford to make the album that I know they are capable of making; this band will sell well in the prog/post/metal markets!

Latest members reviews

4 stars I am really starting to like this album a lot. The cello as a main instrument mixed with a powerful metal style guitar and frenetic drumming sounds like it would never work, but it does. I know the instruments are not the same, but the cello sort of gives me the same feel as Anglagard or maybe ... (read more)

Report this review (#183351) | Posted by digdug | Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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