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Giant Squid / Grayceon > Giant Squid / Grayceon > Reviews > Thumbman
Giant Squid / Grayceon - Giant Squid / Grayceon

A Small Fish in a Big Pond - 60%

Thumbman, December 7th, 2017

Giant Squid is easily one of my favourite bands in heavy music. They're a hard band to pigeonhole - they mix doom, sludge, punk, rock and singer/songwriter stuff; they seem dead-set on avoiding playing by genre rules. Oh yeah, and they really love their prog. While prog mixed with doom is usually painfully boring, they avoid the usual pitfalls - there's no showboating and no aimless meandering. Their side of the split shows their eclecticism to varying degrees of success. Jackie's (half of the power couple that fronted Giant Squid) other band, Grayceon, occupies the other side of the split. I'm admittedly less familiar with them, but I've dug what I've heard. Their side seems a tad weak compared to what I remember of them.

The songwriting for "Sutter's Fort" is anything but traditional. Giant Squid's roots are in the punk scene and the song bursts forth with a fast-paced hardcore riff. The recording quality is pretty weak here and it just doesn't sound that great. I've seen Aaron's vocals compared to Serj Tankian's before and while those claims are usually hyperbolic at best, I can totally see it here. Well I don't have anything against Serj (he can get silly sometimes, but I'll always have a soft spot for SOAD as they were the band that was my gateway to heavy music), Aaron's vocals get nasally to the point of being annoying. The middle of the song is vaguely progish atmospheric stuff and easily the highlight. They really nail the oceanic vibe. Aaron summons his inner Tom Waits and his grizzled croons sound like they've come from an old sea captain who's seen some shit. Aurielle's beautiful sultry vocals (this is a pre-Jackie song) soon take over and provide a wonderful counterpoint to Aaron's deep rumblings. We get some decent sludge before the song peters out with some unnecessary proggy circus keyboards. "Sutter's Fort" has it's moments but it's held back by arbitrary songwriting and rough production. The soft section in the middle is fucking wonderful, though.

"The West" also has fairly rough production and from what I've heard, Grayceon has done much better. It's not bad, mind you, just fairly average. Her cello does set a nice tone and there's some kick-ass drum fills, but the dull, flat production really puts a damper on the guitar. Overall, the song is more cohesive than the Giant Squid one but also not as interesting. Jackie doesn't go for the beautiful higher-register style of vocals she does in Giant Squid, with her vocals much lower here and fairly punk at times. "The West" isn't a bad song but it's not particularly memorable.

At the end of the day, this comes off as a we both had a demo song that won't be put towards an album, so why not sort of split. There's some interesting moments, but it's pretty safe to avoid this one. Considering the quality Giant Squid has mustered (I'll have to revisit Grayceon, but again, I like what I've heard), this split is a small fish surrounded by hulking megalodons.