Album: Grey – EP
It takes a lot to keep a human alive—imagine all of the resources you consume attempting to grow and spread, extending your influence into the lives of others around you like a parasite. The air you breathe, the food you eat and water you drink, these sustain you, when in reality, you only need one thing, and that’s the debut EP from Georgian goliaths, Sustenance. Their debut EP, Grey, is all that is needed to cover even the sharpest tones of gold and silver with black and grey—enough to drain even the brightest rooms of light and joy. Grey is a crushing groovy experience that will sustain itself by feasting on the lives of everyone it touches, leaving nothing but waste—and newly-turned fans of Kennesaw up-and-comers Sustenance—in its wake.
Imagine entering a room—fumbling, desperately attempting to find a lamp or a light switch—only to fall flat on your face. By the time you lift yourself to your feet, embarrassed (even though no one saw) and bruised, and find the lights you were so valiantly searching for, you’re exhausted, simply hoping for illumination. But none comes. Where are you? Your mind begins to race, your heart skips a beat—this is the nail-biting, frantic and dismally dark energy that Sustenance provide with their instrumental prowess. Percussionist Wil Ebersole provides a constant, driving beat—reliable as a metronome throughout “Slade,” for example—that adds extra flashes and flares of energy in the form of dizzyingly complex fills. However, as Ebersole tick-tocks away, providing a deep, booming beat, Andrew Schultz and Justin Tanner wage a furiously fretted war overtop, ranging from low, filthy grooves to slick, high-fretted and eerie riffs. All of these highs and lows—like the haunting riff in “Grey” or the disemboweling groove in “Benz”—are linked by a series of soul-sucking, bone-busting breakdowns. In these moments, Tanner and Schultz find harmony overtop of Ebersole’s effervescent percussion and completely brutalize the listener. This is true in practically every moment of Grey, but is especially exemplary in “Symbiote,” a track that veritably sucks the positivity and happiness out of any listener.
All the while, as you try to make some sense out of your own whereabouts—and turn on the damn lights—a voice rings in your head, wearing down your sanity and scraping at your brain like nails on a chalkboard. This voice is the voice of Evan Kimmons, who attacks the listener with a low, gruff shout that feels as if someone is taking swings at the listener’s temple with a sledge hammer. Whether it’s “Benz,” and Kimmons’ messages of perseverance and loyalty or “Brutus” and his lyrics focusing on misguided beliefs and haunting anger, he provides a constant low shout that fits the filthy grooves and gutwrenching breakdowns perfectly. Even during moments where Sustenance’s grooves reach upwards, orienting themselves as driving, melodic riffs, Kimmons picks up the pace—spitting his lyrics with lethal toxicity and frantic energy—to fit the tone of the song. In this respect, Kimmons manages to make one vocal approach sound fresh and varied throughout an entire EP.
Together with Kimmons’ jarring, berating screams and the remainder of Sustenance’s musical mastery, Grey is an eerie, energetic and brutalizing EP that keeps the listener immersed for its entire duration. Every track features moments that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Traitors or Black Tongue album, but still includes catchy shouts and glorious grooves that could belong on a Structures or Bermuda release. Sustenance walk the line between demolishing down-tempo and contagiously catchy groove while juggling influences of nu-metal and technicality so smoothly that it demands the listener’s attention and respect. For, if they aren’t banging their head with neck-breaking voracity during the end of “Symbiote” or tapping their toes to the climactic breakdown of “Brutus,” then the listener simply isn’t down with heavy music—and likely won’t survive the entire onslaught Sustenance has prepared for them anyways.
Just because the room is dark and the air is stale doesn’t mean you can’t hear what Sustenance have in store for you. Spine-shattering, mind-numbing and skin-rending, Grey is a meat-grinder of an EP that will take in fans of all kinds of heavy music and spew out only grey, tattered remains.
For Fans Of: Victims, Traitors, Black Tongue, Bermuda, Beacons
By: Connor Welsh