Friday, 15 June 2012

Review: Giant Squid - Monster In The Creek 

Imaginative and Bizarre 

Fans only familiar with Giant Squid's full lengths may be surprised by this EP. While Giant Squid is a hard band to pigeonhole into a genre, much of their material has a strong doom metal influence. While there are some nods to the genre here, it would be absurd to try and put this under the label of doom metal. This isn't really metal at all. Sure there is the occasional metal riff and even the rare example of harsh vocals but this is mostly mellow keyboard-driven rock. 

The first vocalist we hear is Aurielle Zeitler on the title track. Her vocals are very pretty sounding, perfectly complimenting the mellow vibes. She makes appearances throughout the release, which provide a nice counterpoint to the distinct vocals of band leader Aaron Gregory. Anyone who has heard his vocals knows they are something else. He has great range and he certainly takes advantage of that, trying out a variety of styles. He has high nasally vocals, gruff deep vocals - he even shrieks in "Throwing a Donner Party". This EP also features the voice of Andy Southard, who left the band shortly after. His voice is pretty high and not always in the best way possible but he certainly knows how to carry a tune. Out of the the three vocalists, his are featured the least.

The great thing about this release is its genre-defying diversity. While largely rooted in atmospheric rock, they shows influence of metal, prog, electronic music and even a hint of jazz. This largely has to do with the keyboard. While they sometimes exist solely for atmosphere, they often become the main attraction. They often remind me of classic rock but at times they turn into full blown electronica. The jazzy keyboard sections in "Age of Accountability" do a hell of a lot to add personality to the track. Although it does contain some metal riffing (which isn't really all that heavy sounding), "Lester Stillwell" is basically an electronic track. Upon my first listen to this release, the only album I had heard from them was "The Ichthyologist". I found it truly strange the same band had previously dabbled in electronic music. Thankfully, their experimentation turns out to be a success - it is both pleasant and engaging. 

"Throwing A Donner Party" is probably the weakest point of this EP. It is by no means bad, it just doesn't measure up to the rest of the songs. It is pretty interesting, but the harsh vocals aren't all that strong and it isn't nearly as good as its remake. I find it all but impossible to listen to this song objectively. I can't help constantly comparing it to the remade version found in "The Ichthyologist", which had a slight name change: "Throwing A Donner Party At Sea (Physeter Catadon)." This song was the one that really stood out to me upon first listen to the album. The harsh vocals are much more powerful on the remake and the clean vocals stand out more. There is a notable melody in the song which on the original version is played on the keyboard. On the later version, it is played on the cello, with extra notes being added which add swing to the the flow. One upside to the original is that the electronic parts work excellently. 

Inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 (the song Lester Stillwell is named after a boy who was killed in these attacks), this is certainly an interesting and imaginative recording. While people who are into Giant Squid's metal side may not appreciate this one as much, this is certainly an important part of their discography. Diversity shines through on this one, every song is good and at no point does it feel like I'm listening to the same song over and over. While diverse, it never feels like they are being weird or adding extra influences just for the sake of it. Everything is methodically planed out and has its place in the bigger picture .This is very weird and definitely not for every one. However, this one may prove to be a true gem to people who do like something a bit different. 


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