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Dreamy Prog? - 80%

Metal_On_The_Ascendant, June 19th, 2021

Grayceon combine the ethereal with the technical in such a graceful and subtle manner that you wonder why their refreshing take on prog is going largely unnoticed. I concede it is not the most accessible thing out there in the style - despite opener "Silver Moon" easily thumbing through familiar Mastodon-like textures - but it is so charming and palatable to any set of ears that have grappled with unwieldier proggers. Or at least, it should be.

The band are from San Francisco and are fronted by cellist Jackie Perez Gratz who did some time in post-metal outfit Giant Squid as well as playing on significant albums by Neurosis and Agalloch. Her beaming cello takes the place of bass and her vocals meander both magically and tiredly over the songs. Her tone varies from airy and ethereal to urgent and questioning but the propulsive merits of IV are bestowed by drummer Zack Farwell. The parts where he doesn't play are just as important as the ones where he lets rip in apparent dynamic fervor. His restraint and control is admirable and one of the best traits of this band.

Perez Gratz herself marries restraint with a sorta loose abandon. Her cello balances out the stricter riff patterns with melancholic phrasing, as on the principally sublime cut "Let It Go". That song in particular is infused with an uber-dreaminess rarely achieved in things so brazenly identifying as prog. The cello once again brilliantly undercuts some jagged riffs in that blistering intro section of "Slow Burn", one of the album's higher points. It does so with a contemplative gait this time and when the vocals kick in with lines like "I don't care where you come from, respect should be in your vocabulary", it all makes sense.

The lyrics are hints of contemplation and idealism and are never thoroughly expanded upon which is something I quite like. "I wanna live life in the sun, I wanna sing ‘til all the songs are sung" is one such proclamation on "The Point Of Me". A quasi-singer/songwriter vibe breaks through on the transitional "Pink Rose" before "Dreamers" ambles by in a prog-sludge trudge of truncated riffs and melodies that are embellished righteously with sprawling cello and choral dream-like vocals. It's beautiful, to say the least.

A minor gripe to be found throughout the proceedings is how the well-crafted disparate elements do not effectively congeal to reward some of these songs the cohesion they need. But hey, you're probably here because you appreciate the "untogetherness" of things.