The long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s critically-acclaimed “Metridium Fields” is finally here, and what a follow-up it has turned out to be.
The band had undergone a few changes since their previous album, the most ostensible being the divorce of guitarists / vocalists Aaron Gregory and Aurielle Zeitler. With Aurielle’s departure, a large chunk of Giant Squid’s signature sound had left the band.
Luckily, her pseudo-replacement, Jackie Perez Gratz (founding member of Grayceon, and also a member of Amber Asylum) provides a whole new twist to an already progressive doom metal sound. Jackie plays cello and sings, and although Aurielle did play both guitar and keyboards as well, those parts did not serve as a very basis for the music the way Jackie's often do in the new version of Giant Squid. The strong cello parts fold into the sound of the guitars and drums quite seamlessly (as they do in Grayceon), and the result is something that I doubt anyone has ever heard before.
The music is sometimes crushing, sometimes quite melancholy, but always intense and interesting. This album also includes several additional instruments and guest appearances, including flute, oboe (played by Jackie’s sister Cat Gratz), violin (played by Kris Force of Amber Asylum), beautiful backing vocals from Anneke van Giersbergen (formerly of The Gathering), and also some ear-piercing screams from the inimitable Karyn Crisis (a friend of the band, who was instrumental in their originally being signed by The End Records).
All of these myriad pieces are melded together with great care and skill by the band – Aaron Gregory in particular, who writes and arranges most of the music – to create one of the best albums of 2009 (so far!).
Throwing a Donner Party at Sea
Dead Man Slough