Grorr – The Unknown Citizens (ViciSolum Productions)Thursday, 6th November 2014
After discovering Grorr’s first album, Anthill, on Bandcamp at the beginning of the year, learning of The Unknown Citizens was a real treat. Anthill was a conceptual album that utilized a multitude of non-traditional metal instruments (hurdy gurdy and sitar among others) to tell the cyclical tale of an ant colony (also serving as a social allegory if you dig into it) as it progresses through the seasons. Grorr continues the high-concept approach for The Unknown Citizens, this time focusing on a poem of the same title by W.H. Auden and moves through three stories of ordinary citizens: a fighter, a worker, and a dreamer.
The sound of Grorr can be described as a mixture of progressive metal in the vein of Gojira, with a djenty guitar tone, with some nods to Tool as well. With the addition of some non-traditional instruments (though not as prevalent as on Anthill) as well as the roar/gruff clean vocal approach, Grorr have more of a unique flavor to them. With the three movements of the album, each one has their own nuances and feelings. As you might guess, the three songs of the Fighter are the heaviest of the bunch, opening the album with a more visceral punch. Moving to the triplet of the Worker, there is a more deliberate pacing and control. This leads into the final trilogy of the album, Dreamer, which is the most melodic of the album. Like Anthill, this is an album to listen to in one complete session, allowing the band to build up themes and emotions over a song or two (a number of tracks do flow into each other) and bring them up to powerful climaxes. Grorr’s aptitude for knowing when to build up tension and then just explode is uncanny (see “Figher – Oblivion” or “Dreamer – Unique”).
The Unknown Citizens is a strong sophomore effort from Grorr. It’s a bit more mature than Anthill, with the band showing some additional focus and restraint when needed and upping their songwriting quotient. Able to take intriguing and high-concept material and put it through the metal lens is what will appear to be Grorr’s calling card, and if all is right with the world, this is a band that should look forward to an explosion in recognition in the near future.