Release DetailsLABEL The End
RELEASED ON 8/22/2006
posted on 8/2006 By:
There’s a lot of shit coming out in August & September, and those of us on a budget need to think wisely as to where we put our money. I’ve given a great deal of thought into whether or not Giant Squid will be getting my money for their Metridium Fields digipak. It’s really quite tempting. Aurielle Gregory’s artwork alone almost makes it worth picking up, but the eclectic mix of cavernous doom metal, dissonant indie-rock, and transcendent psychedelics capped off with some stunning vocal arrangements make it all the more alluring.
It was a bit of a rough listen at first, for me at least, mostly since the vocals often tread the line between beautiful, and grating. The husband and wife team of Aaron & Aurielle handle vocal and guitar duties, with occasionally peculiar results. Aaron has a very sharp, warbling delivery, and touches upon tones which sound like an abstract blending of Jon Anderson (Yes), Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), and Serj Tankian (System Of A Down). Not three personal favorites of mine, but they all have had their moments, as does Aaron. His aggressive singing works a little bit better during the earnestly composed passages, but his more uniform vocal is a real attention-grabber, especially when he manages to hit notes that flow so serendipitously with the wrecking-ball riffing. He also isn’t afraid to belt out a few nasty screams here and there, which almost seems a little unnecessary. I’ll get to Aurielle in a few short moments.
Musically, Metridium Fields is a challenge if you’re one of those types who likes their metal blunt and to the point. Giant Squid fill much of the hour-long running length of the album with unflagging, very simplistic but adequate mountainous doom riffs which would fit alongside much of YOB, Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, and Minsk’s material. Hypnotic in repetition, reverberant in texture, and rich with a resonance like the sounds of a bitter celebration, the music sounds despondent as well as rather exultant. There is also much softer, more delicate components offered for consideration, somewhat folksy at times, presenting an asymmetrical counterpoint to the burrowing structures of the massive doom riffs. This begins to tread into treacherous territory as Aurielle’s vocals sound a lot like Dido & Beth Gibbons, and when aligned with the trippy, lighter music, brings things dangerously close to laborious lounge songs not unlike the most lilting Portishead tunes. I don’t know about you, but Portishead aren’t very close to the top of my list of things to do.
Some of the riffing gets a little redundant, especially concerning the mammoth closing title track, and the lighter embellishments that coincide with the huge chugs serve more as distractions than as complimentary nuances at many points during the disc. The musicianship is rather unremarkable if not competent, and the production is raw but thick and right out of 1984, which depending on your tastes, could be good or bad. I don’t mind it so much, but the mix leaves a little to be desired when it comes to getting a full grasp on the drumming, which is a little understated here.
Overall, when I think about Metridium Fields, I recognize Giant Squid as having assembled the skeleton of what could someday be a monstrous entity. The deliberate, methodical nature of the material actually does move along with a great deal of momentum, and the songwriting shows the potential for something a little more memorable, significant, and completely realized in the future. It sounds a little less majestic and desolate than what they were possibly going for, but at least their point of view is clear enough to be recognizable even if their aim is a little off as of now. They’re definitely a band to keep an ear out for in the future, but I’m still debating about picking this up during my next MetalHaven excursion.
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