Monday 30 January 2017

EP REVIEW: Grim Ravine - "The Light is From Below"

By: Grim Trashcan

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 17/02/2017
Label: Black Bow Records

“The Light is From Below” DD track listing:

1). Shrine of Misery
2). Translunary
3). Hypernova
4). Vacant Mass

The Review:

After my sixth or seventh uninterrupted listen of "The Light is From Below", I almost feel like I can invoke words to properly explain what kind of magic lies within.

Perhaps I measure too much? Sulking over my illuminated keyboard in a poorly lit room, slack-jawed from a day of dealing with life's responsibilities and managing the expectations of others takes its grinding toll. That's where my ritualistic evening reprieve takes form in the sonic conjuring of doom warlocks Grim Ravine. Having been somewhat familiar to this outfits output; the self-titled EP, I was looking forward to hearing what came next.

Hair standing on the back of my neck, chills running from my shoulders across my chest, down my spine and grounding out into the floor is what came next.

The jarring intro to the album's opening track, "Shrine of Misery" makes you appreciate the ability this band has in composing with a long-form sensibility. Imagine a mud-slicked boulder, ripped loose by a torrential downpour and falling ever so destructively towards the bottom of a (forgive the obvious pun) ravine. The bassists tone flash like piano stabs under solar flares of guitar omnipresence. This is the doom of colors, textures and dynamics. Rasped, gasping guttural and freq-sweeping vocalist Gareth Nutbeen holds the listener present by not commanding your ears attention, rather demanding it. They've found the frequency balance here and it's a boulder toss by a behemoth in terms of production nuance in comparison to the first EP. Hats off to whatever entity focused this. 

As the first track settles down, a moment of bleak dynamics and mood-setting takes form in "Translunary". We are met with a hypnotic bass melody accompanied by the unsettling, glistening drips and cavern breaths of eerie presence,  ripped roughshod with an intro that sounds like your high school hippie art teacher having his head smashed into the glass bed of his overhead projector, then the third track "Hypernova" explodes into orbit. A mid-tempo affair, this one rolls like blood down an Orc's maw, only to pause and stretch, intermingle with battle sweat and spittle and drop to the mud. Once again, the sweeping sonic overlays and delicate production nuance don't exist to prove their existence, rather to add to it. Same is true for the singers' addition to this frenzy- he's not there to stand out on the battlefield as an aural target, more of an all- encompassing entity. As this track seizes and contorts to its inevitable demise, I find myself almost wanting to hit repeat to get dragged through once more. The drummers percussive balance sits solidly where it should, no diddling, noodling or gymnastics- a solid frame to hold this all up. It's a lot to hold, mind you. 

The fourth and final track, "Vacant Mass" rises from the depths of a feedback-induced droning lament. It then takes form, with vocal cues and then lifts off with the percussive timing and weight of exactly what the song is called, a mass rises and lifts. Somewhere around the 3 minute mark of this, you feel like you've reached a plateau of experience only to be jarred and shifted in other directions midway through minute 4. Not up or down, just outwards in all directions simultaneously. Halfway through this almost 13 minute affair, the entire mass explodes and you're made to tumble downwards on the monolithic shards of audio landscape. Just as you become familiar with the sense of melody or riff in this new spot, the song drops out and pans back to show you the vast space around you. Consumed by the experience laid from the beginning, they cleverly step you back from all of that and let you gain a sense of relative ease. To be charged and blasted once again into oblivion. 

Thanks Grim Ravine. You are an anomaly in it's purest definition. I can't describe your sounds succinctly enough to give them their due justice or proper praise. For me, that's probably the best compliment I can give. Perhaps I measure too much?

“The Light is From Below” will be available from 17th February 2017
Band info: bandcamp || facebook