Release Date: February 3, 2009
Imagine sinking into the deep, surrounded by mystery, darkness and haunting cries as you succumb to your long death.
This is what Giant Squid’s latest album The Ichthyologist sounds like.
Based on front man Aaron John Gregory’s graphic novel, The Ichthyologist is a tale of the sea and the heroes it swallows.
Another theme of the album is the tale of a man who is left with nothing but the sea, causing him to loose his humanity. He adapts to survive the pain of human loss and emotional tragedy and by the end he resembles something else entirely. Very rarely does a metal album have such deep meaning and wide sound.
Gregory’s dooming vocals lead the journey as Bryan Ray Beeson’s bass pounds away relentlessly much like the waves of a storm. On drums is Chris Mellvile Lyman a hard-hitting musician who uses his art form to propel the band into uncharted waters filled with rich textures underlying with the constant mood of depression and loss.
Giant Squid even features cello, played by Jackie Perez Gratz, along with her vocals she accompanies Gregory providing ground for the slower paced songs “Dead Man Slough” and “Sutterville.” The use of cello isn’t even the strangest part of this album; they use flutes, trumpets, violin, even a banjo. One would think that the use of such instruments in a metal album would become cloudy and cluttered.
These guys have put together what could be called an orchestra that just keeps up with itself and never loses it flow or interest. When vocals are brought up its hard not to mention that Gregory and Gratz role play as sea creatures, victims and even the sea itself is given a chilling voice that haunts and intrigues.
Some of the heavier songs like “Throwing a Donar Part at Sea” feature the best of the entire band, with a trumpet solo that acts as one of the album’s defining moments.
In short, this album is brilliant. From track to track you will not be disappointed. It’s one of the true great metal albums of the year. Giant Squid has given their best in The Ichthyologist, filling it with intelligent solos, lyrics and deep themes and allowing it shine throughout.
-Sean Fenwick, Staff Writer