Thursday 23 October 2014

Giant Squid - Minoans (Album Review)

Giant Squid - Minoans (2014)

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 28th October 2014
Label: Translation Loss Records

Minoans – Track Listing

1. Minoans
2. Thera
3. Sir Arthur Evans
4. Palace of Knossos
5. Sixty Foot Waves
6. Mycenaens
7. The Pearl and the Parthenon
8. Phaistos


Sacramento / San Francisco based, progressive doom-rock scientists, Giant Squid, have been wielding palatial vocals and enormous waves of cello, keys, and exotic sludge riffs for over ten years, garnering universal critical acclaim from all over the world. Marine biology and natural history metaphorically collide with heartbreaking stories of historic human tragedy; resulting in some of the most unexpectedly emotional and sincere music being made today in any underground scene. Cherished by a cult following of fans, Giant Squid has maintained and nurtured their fierce originality for over a decade, while still remaining relevant and tactful in the expert execution of their art.


Aaron John Gregory - guitar, vocals
Bryan Beeson - bass
Jackie Perez Gratz - cello, vocals
Andrew Southard - keyboards, vocals
Zack Farwell – drums


For a genre that stereotypically has been the preserve of knuckle-dragging cider-swilling denim-clad simpletons, there are an awful lot of intellectual pursuits about. Nile have made an career out of the unlikely forging of the cultures of Ancient Egypt and ultra-technical death shredding, while Mastodon hit a career peak with 'Leviathan', exploring the themes prevalent in Moby Dick.

In a similar vein of aquatic mayhem, long timers Giant Squid have been operating under the sonar with an every-shifting crew, but with the prevalent interest in archaeology and ancient civilisations. Perfect fodder for their brand of doom metal you might think, but by great C’thulu they make you work hard for it. In common with the real diggers, who can extrapolate whole civilisations from a fragment of pottery but don’t wear fedoras and beat Nazis up, the charms of Giant Squid aren’t immediately apparent. With apparent musical cues from My Dying Bride and Anathema (before they decided to go all Radio 2 on us, but that’s a rant for another time), but unlike those bands who sing about love, loss and other matters of the heart, there’s a drier academic tone on this one rather than full-blooded howls of emotion. Take 'Sir Arthur Evans', for example. Building on a solemn procession of a bass motif and haunting cello, it’s also the crux point of the album, where the intellectual breadth of their vision becomes clear. It throws opening tracks 'Minoans' and 'Thera' into sharp relief, especially the latter’s double bass drumming filled climax.

From then on, the whole album swims into focus. Like the famous Rosetta Stone, a whole new light is shed and Giant Squid’s unique attributes come to the fore: the guitars carefully mingling with cello for the greater good on 'Sixty Foot Waves', or the close out track 'Phasitos Disc' that offers contemplation and remembrance alongside the heaviest riffs that also have a satisfying tinge of near-East motifs in the hulking ceremonial tones. If you’re after immediate thrills, this isn’t the album for you - heavy as it is, it doesn’t have the immediate visceral thrills of meaner sludge cousins, or the instinctual connection that comes with the more emotionally-affected doom set. But if you’re willing to study and appreciate its unique qualities you’ll experience a quieter sort of satisfaction.

Words by Steve R. Jones

Thanks to Carl at Action PR for the promo. Minoans will be available to buy from Translation Loss Records on CD/DD/Vinyl from October 28th 2014

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