Album: The Faun
Emotion is complicated—anyone can tell you that. However even in an already-mind-boggling category there are divisions that make certain emotions and feelings “simple,” while others are “complex.” Among all of them, grief is one of the most multifaceted and difficult to wrap ones head around. Equal parts loneliness, bitterness, regret, sadness and guilt, grief (and the grieving process) is, to put it lightly, a doozy—and while it’s tough to explain, it’s even harder to replicate, but that doesn’t stop the Durham-based dissonant quartet Greaver from doing it justice in a poetic and passionate manner. With their debut full length record, The Faun, Greaver use post-rock, hardcore both emotional and melodic as well as hints of punk and skramz to yank at the listener’s heartstrings. Combining portions of furious riffing and crushing aggression with ethereal, unnerving calm, Greaver burst into the forefront of the emotional hardcore sphere with a memorable and magnificent breakout release.
The Faun is a crossroads between calamitous, crashing energy and subtle, carefully arranged melodies. From the haunting opener, “Last Breath” to the echoing aftermath of the climactic “Hang Up,” the band oscillate hither and to across their sprawling spectrum of influences—in part to the masterful playing of percussionist Travis Hall. Hall is excellent at hurried, high-energy anthems (“A Poisoned Well” and “November Skin”) while still a strong component of the album’s more mellow moments. Hall fills songs like the spastic “November Skin” or “Hang Up” with fills and fleet footwork—while providing little more than a skeletal beat during the interludes “Last Breath,” “Third Eye” and “First Touch.” On these tracks, Hall works closely with bassist Eli Wray to create an almost jazzy low end—which quickly morphs into a gritty and harsh, punk-esque driving force during The Faun’s aggressive side. Here, the duo are a foundation for Greaver’s three-headed Cerebrus of crushing dissonance and frenzied fretwork. Guitarists Michael Rozier, Michael Townsel and Sean McNaught work excellently together—ensuring every track is both dissonant and sporadic in nature, while still dense with harmonies. “November Skin” and “A Poisoned Well” are especially ear-catching, sounding like a curious crossover between Dance Gavin Dance and Old Gray, mashing up experimental leads with a harsh, dreary backdrop and the occasional breakdown.
If you think Greaver’s musicianship is comprehensive and complex, then their vocal aspect stands to leave you lost. With four of the five members taking turns on vocal duty (McNaught the only one staying silent) to tell a first-person story. Assisted by narrative spoken word segments on the otherwise instrumental interludes, Greaver use a plethora of voices to overwhelm the listener with passion and power the likes of which is rare, even among emotional hardcore. Songs like the lengthy but intense “Hang Up” do an excellent job summarizing the album’s vocal aspect up; with a predominantly mid-range roar that drops into piercing shrieks at will, Greaver’s vocals are the perfect accompaniment to the poignant instrumentation prevalent on The Faun. While interludes like “Third Eye” (especially “Third Eye”) can be difficult to follow with the quiet narrative occasionally overwhelmed by the three-pronged guitar dynamic behind it, a majority of the songs on The Faun scream loudly enough to not just be heard, but felt.
The Faun is a full album, complete with breathtaking peaks (two of which occurring early in the release) and valleys (both of emotive depression and somewhat monotonous content). After the uproarious “November Skin,” listeners may lose focus—as “Third Eye” is tough to follow and “Earth Rune” is somewhat unremarkable—but by the time “Moonlight, Snow” rolls around, the listener is back in the fray, surrounded on all sides by Greaver’s frenzied onslaught. The bottom line is that Greaver are an excellent band for veterans of emotionally-savvy hardcore and newcomers alike. Complex, creative and crushing in more ways than one, The Faun is the closest to grieving anyone would willingly wish to stray.
For Fans Of: La Dispute, Defeater, Dance Gavin Dance, Old Gray
By: Connor Welsh