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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Grayceon

Grayceon

Review by Gary Hill

Grayceon is definitely one of those bands that push the boundaries of heavy metal. With classical instrumentation fully integrated into their music they launch on a series of four musical compositions that combine the raw power of punk with the majesty of epic metal and the aggression of thrash. Amidst all that they manage to pull in elements of folk and world sounds. The thing is, as odd as it sounds, it works great. I don't think a lot of bands could pull this off. Probably one of the best example comes in the later moments of “Ride” where classical violin soars over the top of a vintage thrash jam. These guys have pulled out all the stops in producing a killer disc that alludes to other musical styles while still bending all the genres to their will to make something unique to themselves. While it's probably not for everyone, I'd say that there are a lot of potential Grayceon fans in the prog rock community and the jam band circuit in addition to the minions of metal heads. For more information, including where you can get the disc, point your browser to the band's homepage.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sounds Like Thunder
Classical instrumentation leads this off. Acoustic ballad modes rise up, still infused with classical music. Eventually this begins to pound out in metallic modes, but still in a ballad motif. It's about three and a half minutes before this fires out into true metal. There are still lots of neo-classical textures here, though. And it eventually drops back to more sedate modes to keep going. They alternate between extended sections of both sounds and turn in a killer old school metal jam later. It drops way back down to finally close out. This is a dynamic piece that really shows what modern metal can achieve in the right hands.
Song For You
Jumping straight in with hard-edged frantic sounds, this thing purely screams in a composition that combines old world sounds with a raw metal texture. This one is the shortest track on the disc and a real screamer. It even has some punk elements. It's actually one of my favorites – of course with only four songs, it's kind of easy to lump tracks into that category.
Into the Deep
A short garage band type sound leads this off, but quickly gives way to something more sedate. This mode, kind of a raw epic ballad sound begins building in short bursts of energy. Classical instrumentation plays over the top of the arrangement. It eventually settles into a main song structure and we're on our way. They move through a number of incarnations of this theme before powering out into more pure metal (but still with the quirky overtones the band seem to like) at about the seven minute mark. This has a lot of neo-classical texture on it, but is far too raw and punky to qualify as epic metal. They drop it down to the sedate, classically intoned for a time before they ultimately punch back up into power to end this.
Ride
Nearly twenty minutes in length, this epic starts with sedate tones driven by an acoustic bass. Classical instrumentation skims across this backdrop as it slowly builds up. It stays in a ballad type mode for quite sometime, although it becomes more energized. This has a definite air of the 1970's folk rock that flirted with prog and classical musical styles. Nothing changes quickly on this one. It's not until almost five minutes in that it kicks into anything truly metallic. Even then classical instrument and musical arrangements bring an air of class and uniqueness to this. This reminds me of some of the more mellow vintage Metallica for some reason. They drop it back later to a new section that still possesses the basic musical concepts of the earlier portions of the track, but also brings in some dissonance. This rises up again to thrash metal territory, but the classical instrumentation lends a contrast here. They drop it way back again for a time, then power out into the most purely thrash sounding riff of the disc. Even then, unusual instrumentation in the form of classical strings can be heard across the top. Picture chugging Metallica with violins playing as part of the band. It drops back later to more of that folky ballad sound. This gives way to an almost surf like jam, but delivered in thrash style. This is an aptly named piece as it is one heck of a “Ride.”
 
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