Label: Third I Rex
One of my favourite things I’ve come across whilst writing this blog has been Third I Rex. The UK label has a hugely eclectic roster of releases, and I genuinely wish I was able to cover more of them on here. One of the latest is from Grizzlyman, a Swedish trio who have recorded a self-titled EP packed full of the most wonderful kind of riff-based heaviness. There’s a lot going on in these three tracks, with some unexpectedly successful dark turns in amongst the sludge onslaught, but it all feels remarkably coherent, taking you on a fifteen minute trip full of riffs and headbanging.
A few comparisons spring to mind over the course of Grizzlyman; chiefly, the likes of Mastodon and Kylesa. Like those bands, Grizzlyman have psychedelic hints to their heaviness, raising their music above the dirt and grime that sludge so typically inhabits, giving tracks like “Beneath/Rebirth” an almost transcendent feel that is quite exciting. And like those bands, Grizzlyman have considerable skill at writing a strong, catchy riff that latches in your skull and won’t let go. The largely bellowed and shouted vocals help keep things heavy though, even when the guitars and bass are exploring more adventurous avenues.
Central track “Last King” is the most daring of the three on offer. Whilst opener “Adrift” may feature a passage that finds the common ground between later-day Tragedy, Neurosis-esque post-metal, and 80’s goth, it’s on the largely instrumental “Last King” that the band really see what this combination of styles can do. A bass-driven melody dominates proceedings, with the guitars adding small movements and carefully placed notes that really add to the dark atmosphere. The way the drums gradually grow in intensity that reminds me of what Tragedy were doing on Darker Days Ahead, and when it all reaches a crescendo, it’s wonderfully cathartic and rewarding.
The strength of this track shouldn’t – and doesn’t – take away from the riff-heavy delights on offer elsewhere, though. Rather, it highlights that Grizzlyman are superbly skilled at writing more traditional modern doom/sludge songs, as well as taking their music in more experimental, adventurous directions. It makes this EP a remarkably assured debut release, and bodes very well for the future of the band indeed. Another excellent find from Third I Rex. Killer bass tone throughout, too!
Grizzlyman is set for release on October 16 2016. It can be streamed and pre-ordered on digital and CD via Bandcamp.