Giant Squid – Cenotes EP (Translation Loss Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

One of the major players in the artsy San Francisco metal scene, Giant Squid to this point, have made a career out of being left-field without being tooleft-field, if that makes any sense. 2009’s The Ichthyologist married the sludge aura of Neurosis with wood instrumentation, yet never lost its stream of cohesion, something that’s readily on display on the five-song Cenotes EP.

At 35-minutes, Cenotes could come in as a regular album (Fact: It costs just as much to promote an EP or live album as it does a full-length), as each of the five songs here are full-bodied and avant-garde excursion with loads of cello action (“Making Scars”) and the ethnic push and pull of “Snakehead.” In fact, “Snakehead” might be Giant Squid’s best experiment to date, shuffling along while stellar vocal interplay between Jackie Perez Gratz (she’s also on the cello) and Aaron Gregory add new dimensions of character.

The closing title track evokes visions of fellow San Fransisco art metallers Hammers of Misfortune because of the vocal layering the punchy guitarwork, but it’s the mournful conclusion of this song that ultimately makes the EP as a whole, another triumph for Giant Squid. Few bands of the blatantly artistic-for-artistic sake are able to drop both uniqueness and malleable songs into one offering, thus warranting an investigation from those looking to find a way out of standard-fare grunt and scream metal. Unique is good.

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