Grayceon, All We Destroy (2011)
One of the most underrated albums of this decade, hands down. Aside from boasting cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz — whose formidable CV includes entries for Neurosis and Om guest spots in addition to her own other bands, Amber Asylum and Giant Squid among them — Grayceon‘s 2011 third outing, All We Destroy (review here) offered a richness of scope, progressive complexity and vibrant emotionalism across its span that from where I sit you can just about count on one hand the records that have come along in the last half-decade that can stand up to it. I was a fan of it at the time too, and in the years since it’s one of those albums to which I’ve returned over and again, some memory pushing forward in my consciousness that leads me back to it. As with the best of anything, it has lasted through this test of time and continues to resonate even now, where so many others have fallen by the wayside since.
Released through Profound Lore, All We Destroy comprises six tracks — interestingly the Bandcamp stream switches “Dreamer Deceived” and “Shellmounds” at the open — and lasts a substantial pre-vinyl-explosion 50 minutes, but it’s the grandeur of the thing that’s ultimately so striking, its blend of classicism and extremity, and the fluidity with which Grayceon are able to shift from one side to the other, here thrashing mad before the first galloping verse of “Shellmounds” and there quiet and folkish to gracefully unfold the start of “Once a Shadow.” Together with guitarist/vocalist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell, Gratz courses gracefully along a path that’s doom and yet very much not at the same time in “Dreamer Deceived,” the song’s interplay of guitar and cello given firm foundation through the drums, though truth be told, it’s all viciously creative. It just also happens to be that Grayceon are able to hold the material together even as they seem to be spinning off in different directions at various points, toward blackened screams, multi-layered cello solos, or crushing sludge riffs. Oh yeah, and all that happens in about 30 seconds too.
I won’t take away from “A Road Less Traveled” or “War’s End” as the closing duo or “Once a Shadow”‘s weary melancholy, or the frantic mournfulness of “Shellmounds,” but All We Destroy‘s crowning achievement is undoubtedly “We Can,” a 17-minute album-unto-itself that pulls together the best of what works in all Grayceon‘s other tracks and executes a flawless tiered build through distinct movements, each of which flows into the next, but all of which make a memorable impression. It was my pick for the best song of 2011, and that’s something I stand by five years later. For an record that seems to have war as its underlying theme, All We Destroy has so much life in it, and “We Can” envisions a distinctly feminine struggle at the center of the record in a manner both insightful and emotionally gripping — the play of screams back and forth, “We can — build — nothing,” a brilliant reverse reminder of the album’s title.
All We Destroy followed Grayceon‘s 2008 sophomore album, This Grand Show, and their 2007 self-titled debut, as well as a split with Giant Squid (2007’s The West) and was answered in 2013 with an EP, Pearl and the End of Days. As of January 2015, they were at work on a fourth full-length, but I haven’t seen any word of further progress than that. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen or that it is, just that it hasn’t been announced. Maybe by the time it shows up I’ll have finished digesting this record, though somehow I doubt it.
Hope you enjoy.
My book, Electroprofen, is out now. You can buy it from War Crime Recordings here: http://warcrimerecordings.bigcartel.com/product/electroprofen-by-jj-koczan
It’s limited to 300 copies. If you pick one up, I hope you dig it. And thank you.
That alone would be enough to make this a busy week, but add in stuff like the Wo Fat review yesterday, making the podcast that went up a bit ago, and that Wren stream today, it was pretty packed even before you consider book releases and/or the big comedown after being at Roadburn last weekend, traveling all day Monday, the development of the annual post-Roadburn cold, announcing EYE for the All-Dayer, job stuff, and everything else that life presents in its assault. It was madness, to be honest with you. I’m very, very tired.
Almost through the day though and looking forward to a phone call in a bit and then a hopefully laid back weekend in Connecticut. Two hours to get there, two hours to get back, but screw it, that’s worth that trip and the DayQuil will kick in sooner or later and I’ll be grooving.
Next week looks like this so far: Monday a live video premiere of some new Atavismo — awesome — and a track premiere/review of new Samavayo. Tuesday a show announcement from Gozu. Wednesday a video premiere from Stone Machine Electric and full-album stream from Joy. Thursday not sure yet but I sure would like to review that Beastwars record or the Supervoid and Red Desert split, but we’ll see what time allows. Also have a Crypt Sermon interview waiting to be posted, so that’ll be up sometime in there as well. Maybe next Friday.
That’s how it’s in the notes now, though of course any of that could change between today and when we get there.
I’ve also started planning the next Quarterly Review — just in case you were wondering how much time actually goes into those things. The answer is a lot. It’ll start at the end of June/beginning of July.
Thank you for reading.
And please have a great and safe weekend.
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