Exotic and unconventional, San Francisco based trio Grayceon have never been much for the standard structures of modern rock or metal music. Comprised of the ever-present guitar and drums, but fronted by Jackie Perez Gratz (also of Giant Squid) and her cello wizardry, it would seem only fair for each and every offering to be slightly off the wall, if not strangely hypnotic. And while the former always applies, it is the latter than best describes the newly released EP, titled "Pearl And The End Of Days." While you may only find two songs listed on the album itself, the flowing soundscapes and lightly polished compositions amount to so much more; a twenty seven minute piece of recorded sound that challenges convention, and gives rise to the hope that new and interesting things are on the horizon. It is here, then, that we see them in their finest (half) hour, doing more with less.
Easily the more aggressive of the two, "Pearl" is the perfect example of that minimalist theory. Skilled cello work doesn't dominate the mix the way you would assume, but rather fills the gaps that would be left without a second guitar or bass. The verse sections are elegantly constructed, even with the hammering of drums. Percussionist Zack Farwell adds a raw element to the track, with his "larger than his drum kit would let on" style. But it is just shy of the five minute mark, where you find what may be a breath of musical perfection, synthesizing all three instruments into one unique and jaw dropping sound. Even more staggering than that one clip, though, is the way the band manages to be both haunting, beautiful, and unrestrained in their approach to each and every movement. You may make it through the entire song without ever really paying much attention to the scant vocal passages; but rest assured, they won't fade from your memory.
The second and more avant offering, "The End Of Days," takes place over a much more significant time period, allowing itself more wide open spaces to stretch out and grow. The crawling pace of the opening would make so many doom artists proud, bordering on the one beat per minute style of Virgin Black. But as the low hum of the cello meets with some lightly plucked strings, something is building. if there is a more infectious riff than the one that leads the charge in the verse, I have yet to hear it. As Gratz croons "we will all die, no one survives," they are more than just words floating through space. Their delivery, the means by which they are conveyed, and the musical vessel that carries them from mp3, to your speakers, to your ears, gives them meaning of their own. The same gusto manages to carry you gently through the swaying refrain, and directly into a punk/thrash fueled break. There is poetry, but it is masked and hiding among the varied paces and time signatures. And just when you think you have heard all there is to hear, the minute or more that forms the outro is both devastating loud, and sonically beautiful.
I'm a hypocrite. In fact, we are all hypocrites. We find ourselves being dragged kicking and screaming into the new year, time and time again. We yearn for the sounds of our formative days, the ones that turned us on to music in the first place. We want bands, and entire styles, to stay the same for our own greedy purposes. But all the while, we silently hope that someone will come along and shatter that safe little fish bowl we have been hiding in. Grayceon might not be the first band to challenge our desire for the same old thing, but they have done it with such strength, such overwhelming talent, that it would be hard to go back to the same old thing. If nothing else, the two tracks and twenty seven minutes of mixed musical styles that make up "Pearl And The End Of Days" are a sign of brighter days ahead, and perhaps a way for some of us to leave the fish bowl behind.
Bandcamp - http://grayceon.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/grayceon