“Can you hear the sound of the world? This ephemeral echo that slowly burns through the void…
Can you see beyond the veil? This overwhelming presence that enhances the truthfulness of any reality…
And then…When everything has faded away and the world is silent…
All there will be left is resonance…And the grey.”
Bred from the prose above, the epic, imposing landscape of The Grey, the debut album from French progressive metallers [STÖMB], is a ten track exploration of desolation and the nothingness consuming life before, during, and after its journey. Certainly that is where it took our imaginations, but the encounter will be the conjuring of diverse thoughts and emotions across all immersing within its potent and compelling adventure. As much as it is for ears, The Grey is an exploration for the imagination too, sculpting instrumental dramas and imposing soundscapes which easily ignite the senses and mind.
With a progressive metal sound entwining rich essences of diversely found flavours, the listing of the Paris quartet’s inspirations probably giving a clearer picture of their invention. Guitarists Tom B and Aurélien DF, bassist Alexandre G, and drummer Olivier R cite bands such as Meshuggah, Tesseract, Klone, Tool, and Animals As Leader as influences to their own striking compositions, and fair to say whatever your imagination is coming up with as you read that spicing is probably close to the mark in regard to album and sound yet a fraction of what The Grey provides as it leads ears and emotions into fresh adventures.
At around seventy minutes in length, the album is an epic journey and challenges from start to finish whilst rewarding with tracks which transport the listener into the realms they have been inspired to contemplate by its sonic narrative. Maybe combined it all makes for a proposal pushing limits of endurance, yet there is rarely a moment within songs and release where thoughts and attention wanders. From opener The Complex the album simply fascinates; every slither of melodic seduction and roar of primal antagonism a bewitching incitement. The first track alone has it all, its initial caress of beauty evolving into a volatile stroll of ravenous riffs and menacing rhythms within a caustic yet inviting ambience. The only voices across the album come in occasional suggestive samples, an early one helping shape or at least hint to the descriptive intensity and background of the first track.
The portentous feel of the song is replaced by the ferocious and hostile majesty of Rise from Nothing, a ravenous consumption of the senses but composed with a sonic and melodic beauty which ebbs and flows across the rugged rhythmic scenery. It’s consistently tempestuous air and theatre becomes even more volatile and inflammatory as the track proceeds, but like a travelogue it equally enthrals as it slips into new aural lands of mystique and creative colour before making way for Veins of Asphalt. The new detour to explore equally has a wealth of fearsome and endearing enterprise to offer and evolve; jagged riffs and scything beats entangled with a sonic web of mouth-watering craft and virulent temptation. With most tracks within The Grey ranging between six and nine minutes, only two courting slimmer lengths, there is a continually changeable aspect to the dark, immersive flights which is impossible to portray here but take as read very easy to get lost within in person.
Corrosion Juncture is a blend of savage intimidation and melodic ingenuity within a spatial atmosphere, the music a tenaciously magnetic flight through turbulence and calm within a shadowed drenched unknown. The senses are buffeted throughout and ears lit by the masterful endeavour of each aspect of sound as the track drives towards the lighter peace and beauty of The Crossing. It is a brief floatation of warm melodises and transfixing creative charm, a lull in the tempest which is soon consuming ears and thoughts again through the dystopian heat and intensity of Under the Grey. Its busy persuasion has thoughts lost in Orwellian theatre, again evidence of tracks and the band freeing the imagination to explore its own dark corners to their soundtrack. The song is a gripping proposal equalled by the just as potent Terminal City, a bustling rigorous prowl across an intensive, unrelenting daily provocation of life we can all feel akin to.
The track is glorious, the pinnacle of the album alongside its predecessor, though things continue to enthuse appetite and enjoyment as the broader terrain of The New Coming and the mercurial Genome Decline follow. The first of the pair embraces a calmer if still ferociously unstable climate with a smothering tapestry of unpredictable sound whilst its successor is an undulating, rabidly twisted spiral of enterprise and imagination embracing the listener in a thick sonic hug breeding fiery melodies and spicy textures.
The album closes with Only an Echo, a song with its melancholic air and reflective ambience which feels like an epilogue or more an epitaph to the dark premises explored before it. It is a fine and suggestive end to an increasingly gripping encounter. Admittedly at times The Grey is now taken in halves here, yet each time it leaves a lingering pleasure and incitement in emotions and thoughts…Fair to say that progressive metal has another impressive protagonist to contemplate.
The Grey is available now @ https://stomb.bandcamp.com/album/the-grey
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