Post metal is a grandiose and ambitious genre. Even more so than its doom counter-parts, bands that operate in this genre rely on emotional weight and tone to relieve their music of repetitiveness and simple-minded heavy-just-to-be-heavy sound. To temper this type of emotional appeal, to make sure the album doesn’t simply fall into a series of epic passages, two main qualities are required of the artist: composition skills and cohesion. Giant Squid, a veteran band in the field of post metal and doom, lack no composition skill. However, their recent offering Minoans, does sadly fall short in the cohesion department.
It’s an album that contains its moments but sadly falls short of its predecessors, namely the masterful Metridium Fields, one of the best albums in the genre. The first immediately obvious thing upon listening to this album is its heavy reliance on strings. This is no surprise, as string parts are a well established tool within the genre and it’s not a bad thing either; the strings create some of the most beautiful moments on this album like the touching ‘The Pearl and the Pantheon’ or the massively catchy riffs of ‘Mycenaens’.
However, in many parts of the album, like the center-piece ‘Sixty Foot Waves’, the interaction between the rest of the instruments and the strings simply accomplishes nothing. Instead of moving us, it ties the progression of the verse and chorus to the strings, holding it back from accomplishing its full musical impact. This is narrowly avoided in opening track ‘Minoans’, which injects just enough synths and delightfully heavy riffs to counter-act the somatic influence of its string parts. ‘Minoans’ is undoubtedly the best track on the album, fully realizing its own epic theme by the time the track draws to a close.
Perhaps the other major flaw holding this album back from fully flourishing are the vocals. Make no mistake, both vocalists are incredibly talented singers, the problem doesn’t lie there. Instead, we turn again to cohesion for our explanation. Where in Metridium Fields the operatic style of both singers created an eerie and disjointed feeling that made the album so addictive, here it seems just disjointed, apart and separate from the rest of the music. This is a danger many bands in the genre face, where the vocals are designed to relay a “lighter”, more dreamy vibe, while the music descends below. The trick is in pairing these two themes together and it simply doesn’t happen here.
That being said, it’s important to reiterate that excellent parts exist on this record. The opening to ‘Thera’ is down right majestic with its piano and guitars, ‘Minoans’ is a pristine track which stands high above the rest of the album and closer ‘Phaistos Disc’ is a charming reiteration of prevalent themes throughout the album. However, Giant Squid have produced far superior music in their long career. At the end of the day, it’s quite possible that this album will be remembered as a side note, a non too enticing phrase in the verse that is Giant Squid’s career. It’s not necessarily bad, it simply lacks some of the cohesion and strength that characterized their previous albums.
Giant Squid’s Minoans gets…