Review Summary: With All We Destroy, Grayceon manage to combine post-, doom and progressive metal, cello and stellar vocals into a unique and atmospheric album draws you in like few others do.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
If you ask the average metalhead about bands that use the cello, he’ll probably be very quick to mention Apocalyptica, but that would probably it. If he’s into avante-garde metal, then the name Diablo Swing Orchestra would maybe come up, but the probability that Grayceon would find a mention is pretty damn slim, which is, quite frankly, a shame. On the other hand, it’s not really all that surprising, because Grayceon’s amalgam of post-, doom and progressive metal isn’t really anything that is very accessible or that has a large appeal, even among the fans of the genres mentioned.
Grayceon are made up of three musicians: guitarist/vocalist Max Doyle, cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz and drummer and drummer Zack Farwell. The fact that they have completely foregone the use of a bass guitar and use the cello to cover the lower ends at times, while alternating this with cello lead passages, accompanied by guitar, makes this music a whole different beast, even from other bands that mesh similar styles in their sound, like Intronaut or Giant Squid (though the latter are the closest in sound that you will probably find to Grayceon – Giant Squid even features Perez Gratz on cello and vocals as well).
This interesting musical quirk is a large part of what makes All We Destroy such an interesting musical experience. The band manages to seamlessly weave guitar and cello around each other, which allows them to span the whole range between crushing heaviness to atmospheric and wistful soundscapes effortlessly. Gone are the traditional roles of the guitars giving the direction and the bass providing the backdrop – on All We Destroy, Grayceon let the cello take lead as often as the guitar, and it works splendidly.
Worth a mention are also the amazing vocals here. While both guitarist Max Doyle and cellist Jackie Perez Gratz are credited as vocalists, Perez Gratz is responsible for most of the vocals on this album and she does a tremendous job at it, with Doyle only helping out on occasion, providing harmonies like on the fantastic closer War’s End. While she does employ screams on this album, they are few and far between, and while I don’t have anything against harsh vocals in general, I am actually very happy about that, for two distinct reasons: their rarity makes the use of screams (for example, in the beginning of Dreamer Deceived) much more effective, and secondly, Perez Gratz’s clean vocals are far more to my liking. Her clean singing is eerie and unsettling, yet calming and sultry at the same time and it works extremely well in context of the music of the album – more than anything, her vocals are what draws me into this album.
Now, I said a lot about what makes this band special, but all of that would be ultimately worthless, if the song-writing weren’t up to scratch, but fortunately, it is. After Grayceon’s self-titled debut, which was more slow, mellow and atmospheric, and their sophomore release The Great Show, which leaned more toward the metal side of things, this album is the perfect combination of the two, with both elements of the band’s sound brought out to maximum effect. Standouts include the uptempo and rocking (I might even go as far and call it catchy) Shellmounds, the slow and brooding War’s End and the epic centrepiece We Can, which manages to summarise what the band are about effectively in seventeen minutes that feel like seven, but really, there isn’t a weak track on this album. There are some moments on this album that leave my scratching my head, like the awkward ending to Dreamer Deceived, which feels as though something is missing, or the first minutes of Once a Shadow don’t really grab me like the rest of the album, but on the whole, it’s an incredibly cohesive effort.
I can’t really say much about the lyrics, because while the vocals and the way they complement the music are stellar, I have never really delved into the lyrics themselves, but the vocals are more like an instrument here anyway, so it doesn’t matter much.
On the whole, this album is pretty damn near perfect. Yes, there are some small flaws that could be ironed out, but that’s really minor stuff. What matters is that Grayceon manage to use an unusual instrumentation and combination of genres to create something very unique and rewarding. It isn’t for everyone, and it will never achieve mainstream success, but if you like post metal, then I can imagine that this is an album that you might thoroughly enjoy.