May 23, 2008

Gris / Il Etait une Foret - Friday Metal Review Rather than a Flashcard

Artist - Gris (Grey)

Title - Il Etait une Foret (He (it?)was a forest)

Hometown - Canada

Label - Sepulchral Productions

Street Date - Out Now

RIYL - Burzum, two piece metal bands, Niflheim (band morphed into Gris), atmospheric Black Metal, French Canadians equally influenced blasphemy and classical melodies / instrumentation, 10 minute songs which feel more like epic journeys, new age death, testing your knowledge of the French language

The Hits - The whole record needs to be digested in one sitting. Outing one or two tracks would be like seeing a play minus one its act.

Richter Magnitude Rating Scale - Strong

True Story.

To the left of me was a post-op transsexual woman (once man) in her 40s who looked suspiciously like Kathleen Turner with less teeth and to the right of me was the reincarnation of Tammy Fay Baker, a woman in her 50s sobbing quietly into her cell phone, dabbing her over done eyes with a tissue. I was sipping a beer in between these two women at a restaurant waiting for my take out order to be delivered to me.

It struck me at that moment how we are all made up of the same flesh and blood yet we can all be so incredibly different when lined up at a counter side by side. We are a complicated species and somewhere buried within us can be something both tragic and beautiful. This is life in all its imperfect awkward glory. It is an older woman wearing a mask of make-up crying in public because she is too emotional to hide her hurt. It is a man who chooses a very dark and difficult path to become a gender he wasn't born into just to be someone she knows herself to be. It is me drinking a beer which totally cancels out the good of having ordered a healthy salad over thinking the company around me at a bar before I review a black metal record when I get home.

The three of us were all sitting alone in the same place yet clearly sitting within three different head spaces and points in our life.

The band Gris, in a totally strange way fits into this concept of complex, rich, ugly beauty. It is catastrophe and doom carried out in a crushingly sad emotional screaming fit style yet presented in a way which plays out with a massive cinematic scope. The story this two piece band tells is constantly shifting into dramatic new dark places, sometimes with a brutal force behind it and at other times offered with a more delicate voice of acoustic instrumentation backed with strings and a piano. The dynamic range of Il Etait une Foret is staggering and enormous.

Much like the dinner portion of my evening, this record is filled with all sorts of surprises that test the boundary of safety and what you feel comfortable surrounding yourself with. It is all the things people want a black metal record to be: GRIM but it is also strange, haunting, deeply moving, and manages to maintain at a consistent level of genuine sincere soulful humanity; often hideous yet absolutely spell binding.

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