“Supergroup” is a controversial term that often gets a bad rap for failing to meet listeners’ expectations. It can be hard not to expect greatness from a project consisting of musicians from different accomplished bands that all have many fans. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra (GTO) is a supergroup project that has been in development for several years, consisting of William DuVall (vocals, Alice in Chains), Brent Hinds (guitar, Mastodon) and Ben Weinman (guitar, The Dillinger Escape Plan). Also on the roster is Thomas Pridgen on the drums, who has played with The Mars Volta, and Pete Griffin on the bass, who has played with Dethklok and Zappa Plays Zappa.
opens up with the driving hard rock track “Adapt or Die,” a highlight song on the album that is very easy to get reeled in with its catchy chorus. With this track also featuring a trade-off guitar solo shred session between Hinds and Weinman, you would think the album would take a more progressive route than what singles “Crucifixion” and “Blood Moon” have to offer. While GTO prove they can write upbeat and catchy songs with coordinated and stellar musicianship, they almost forget to embrace their experimental talents as individual musicians.
Luckily, Broken Lines
is saved from becoming a series of radio rock tunes with tracks like “Fragments & Ashes” and “Back to the Light.” Opening with a chord progression that sounds like the beginning of a Mastodon song, “Fragments & Ashes” features tricky drum fills, aggressive guitar stabbing, and a versatile vocal performance from DuVall that seamlessly combines the styles of the three core members’ bands.
The centerpiece of the album, “Back to the Light,” is arguably the best track on Broken Lines
. DuVall’s soaring vocals and Weinman’s guitar riffing in this song’s verses contain phenomenal build up as this song ascends to an explosive chorus featuring Juliette Lewis over a booming guitar solo. All of which transitions into a funky breakdown to close out the song. However, while the track is a defining moment for the album, the cameo performance from Juliette Lewis may be hit or miss for many listeners as her vocal noodling may seem over the top, and at times, just plain annoying.
closes with its title track which does not do anything special to finish off the album, and suffers from possibly the biggest gripe most listeners may have at this point: not enough instrumental or experimental sections. With musical talents such as Hinds, Pridgen and Weinman the album does not feature any drum solos for instance, or the unpredictable quirkiness you would usually hear from Weinman. GTO’s Broken Lines
is a solid rock album, regardless of any expectations fans of the members’ individual projects may have. However, it is perhaps not an album as grand as you may expect from an "orchestra."