Album: Grim – EP
When one thinks of the word “bleak,” more often than not, a hazy, lifeless landscape comes to mind—a setting remarkable only for how…unremarkable it really is. It’s rare that we ever attribute any emotion or energy to the word, because shy of depression or despair, “bleak” doesn’t inspire much emotion. At least it didn’t before.
Enter New England’s heaviest export, Pry.
With Nodus Tollens, Pry showed us that zither dreary, downtrodden connotations of the word “bleak” can, indeed, be combined expertly with brooding, dissonant aggression. Now, on their long-awaited sophomore EP, Grim, they expand on it. Their breed of devastating brutality is no longer confined within the narrow, restricting genre borders of “downtempo.” Instead, Pry have spent the nearly-two-year span between releases to mature, adding elements of heavy hardcore and more traditional deathcore into their sound to establish a balanced and blistering dynamic that transcends single-genre labels and is best described as “heavy.” Taking the soulless, sinister and very much bleak nature of their debut and adding girth and grisly aggression into the fold, Grim is a monster that properly kicks in 2018’s doors.
Where Nodus Tollens was the picture perfect example of downtempo deathcore, Grim is more expansive in how it unleashes it’s onslaught on the listener. Adding back-busting slams and blunt, brash fight-starting riffs into the mix, Pry add to their arsenal in fantastic fashion. Percussionist and songwriter Hunter Spader still wastes little time with technicality or flashy, over-the-top flair—opting instead to further his mastery of raunchy, steamrolling and sludgy patterns that leave the listener thoroughly flattened. Album intro, “Grim” highlights this—but in all honesty, just about every song sees Spader excelling in one fashion or another; whether it working the burly bass on “Immolation,” or serving as a sinister anchor to the eerie leads and copious atmosphere abundant on “Silence” or “Parasitic.” Spader’s percussion is ear-catching enough to keep the listener from getting bored, but serves primarily as a foundation for guitarist Austin Parsons, whose talents—while based in crafting belligerent breakdowns aplenty—include capturing soul-sucking atmosphere and quick, hammering riffs that work with Spader’s kick drum to leave the listener seeing stars. Parsons provides piercing leads on tracks akin to the aforementioned “Parasitic,” while using songs like “Carnage” and “Grim” to do little else besides beat the living Hell out of the listener. In this fashion, Parsons and Spader establish a dynamic between heavy and straight-up scary, giving Pry a horrific appeal to anyone looking for upwards of twenty minutes of Hellish brutality.
Pry—dark and brooding though they are—would be little more than an upper-end, young and trendy heavy band without the contributions from frontman Michael Jacques. Jacques starts off Grim with a vicious roar on the short-but-sweet introductory number, and only grows from there. Still very much angry and aggressive, Jacques lashes out this time around with better patterning and pacing to accompany his skilled screams and bellows. “III,” or the lead single, “Parasitic,” exemplify this—with Jacques’ voice as eviscerating as ever, just with a sharper edge and more precision and control to match his endurance and tone. Jacques’ jarring low tones and meaty roars give the more cut-and-dried downtempo aspects of Grim a fathomless, curious feel—where his faster patterns and work with a variety of talented guests allow a more metallic and fluid feel to songs like “Parasitic.” This becomes even more evident where he works with artists like Alex Miller, clashing Miller’s raw, throaty roars with Jacques’ grisly, unfathomable bellows. The result—Jacques has changed his approach very little, simply because he didn’t need to change much, only improving areas of minor weakness.
In keeping with fellow mosh-summoners Bodysnatcher, Pry add enough downtempo influence into the mix to prove that low’n’slow isn’t quite dead. That aside, the band are much more varied and even more bloodthirsty than their debut. Where the occasional eerie lead seems a little out of place, and frankly the listener could do with one more track added into the release, there is precious little Pry could do to make this a more appealing release to heavy music enthusiasts. Remember: if you’re looking for technical, fast, shreddy—any of that—it’s best to keep looking. Pry aren’t those guys. But if you want twenty-something minutes of concussive, crushing brutality, Grim is exactly what you need to kick off 2018.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, Sleepers, Lowpoints, Born a New
By: Connor Welsh