Review Summary: Grayceon continue to push genre boundaries as far as they can
Coalescing the genres of progressive metal, doom, and post-metal and fit with a cellist in the place of a bassist, it’s safe to say that Grayceon refuse to stay in a comfort zone. It’s pretty impressive how on the three of their LPs, none of their musical endeavors came across as sloppy no matter how risky they might’ve been on paper. The progressive title would likely make new listeners cautious due to its horribly overstated stereotypes that I don’t need to get into, of which Grayceon pick the most appealing aspects to use in their music with no superfluous noodling to be found. All of their songs since their 2007 self-titled debut are cleverly crafted to avoid being repetitive while still keeping underlying themes present throughout the entirety of their 10+ minutes and effortlessly pushing the genres’ boundaries as far as they can in the process. Pearl & The End of Days
continues their ambitious ever-evolving sound in the form of 27 minutes of genre defining metal brilliance.
Unlike a fair share of post-metal releases, Pearl & The End of Days
never drags during its runtime. Even in the slower sections, the music is always building to something; whether it’s a chorus or a wonderfully placed cello lead, the music is constantly moving forward giving the listener something to cling to at any given moment. ‘The End of Days,’ clocking in at a modest 17 minutes, seems like it would be a prime contender for an overly ambitious experiment that doesn’t quite come together as it should, but its structured in such a way that its abundance of ideas overlap into each other flawlessly. E.g. anytime it feels like it’s getting too repetitive, it changes; anytime it feels like it’s getting monotonous, it changes time signatures. It constantly keeps the listener on their toes and challenges their attention span throughout the entire 17 minutes. Opener ‘Pearl’ is almost as impressive, having heavy neoclassical influences in the verses before diving into a The Ocean-esque cello driven bridge. Yet as melodically fruity as the EP gets, it does have its fair share of dark moments, particularly the morose intro of ‘The End of Days.’ It sets up the atmosphere of the rest of the song perfectly so that even during its most uplifting times, a dense bleakness is lingering in the background, harkening back at their post-metal roots whilst simultaneously fiddling around with other genres like it’s nobodies business.
One minor issue I have with Pearl & The End of Days
is the production, specifically the electronic cello tone. It sounds a bit too
electronic at times and it gets distracting when the cello is the focus, which happens quite a lot. Also the cello, being the low end of the sound, doesn’t hold the mix together as well as it did on previous efforts. Maybe it’s due to the odd effect, but the doomy sections just feel like they’re lacking something. You would expect a dense, monolithic sound but you’re left with a relatively thin aura of individual instruments playing at the same time. However this sort of plays out to their advantage since, more often than not, each instrument is playing intertwined counter melodies and the production prevents them from blending muddily into each other.
If nothing else, Pearl & The End of Days
proves that Grayceon are far from done. They’ve progressed this far without selling out and improving many songwriting inconsistencies they’ve had in the past. Grayceon demonstrated on All We Destroy
that they are a continuously evolving band, and while Pearl & The End of Days
isn’t necessarily the biggest leap forward, it’s their way of showing their fans they still have the same fiery ambition they had six years ago and it’s not going out any time soon.