Giant Squid – Minoans (Translation Loss Records)Thursday, 2nd October 2014
For the many permutations ‘post-metal’ tends to wind up with, progressive oddly isn’t that high on the list. Maybe it’s the post-metal staples of lumbering pace or the need to express darker moods. Whatever the cause, it makes Minoans all the more surprising in how well it’s executed the way it is. While embodying the best elements of the post-metal tag (minus the aimless suck, for aside from the opener most of these songs wrap up in 5 minutes), and meshing it with progressive exaltations. All in all it’s not terribly dissimilar from Ancestors, though again with an extreme focus on economy within each song.
Minoans is a concept album, unfortunately lost on me for all the attention I pay to lyrics, though relayed pleasantly enough with male and female vocals, sometimes together, separate, or mixed up with others. Vocal interplay and proggy key-asides are cornerstones of ‘Sixty Foot Waves’ but with the keys changed out for strings and down-tempo instrumental backing in ‘The Pearl and the Parthenon’. The crushing and the melancholy intertwine with vocals geared toward old haunts and older scars in the devastating closer ‘Phaistos Disc’ that, sadly, at just under four minutes, feels painfully short.
With all the additional instrumentation that fleshes out these pieces it becomes easy after awhile to become lost within them. While at times sparse, the music beneath these dressings is not lacking for impact or gravity, though when together they can be devastating (‘Mycenaeans’ above all). If post-metal on its own weren’t long dead and buried it could be wagered this would be just the band to give it the life it needs to stay relevant. As it is, however, this is instead a band that’s taken the parts it likes and is furnishing something fairly unique and evocative with them. A colossal record of an empire and the death that brings it to collapse.