Artist: Greg the Hero
Album: Dissolve; Devolve
Being a fan of heavy music means coming to terms with the fact that bands don’t last forever—in fact, more often than not, it’s the bands with ten-plus year runs and five full lengths in their discography that are the outlier. Sometimes bands—even those new bands that seem the most promising and unique—fizzle out before (or in the midst of) reaching their peak. Personally, I’ve lost count of my “new favorite bands” that break up before ever following up their debut release, and while it gets discouraging, the high amount of turnover means there’s always something new and exciting around the corner. Until about a year ago, I thought experimental deathcore act Greg the Hero were one of those one-hit-wonder stories. After releasing Of Defiance at the turn of the decade (last decade, that is), the band essentially went dark…until early 2020, when things started picking back up. Fast forward to 2021 and we’re getting Dissolve; Devolve, the band’s swan song and long-awaited follow-up to 2011’s cult hit Of Defiance. While Greg the Hero never got the wide-spread acclaim warranted by the odd song structure and quirky, catchy grooves that made Of Defiance such a sleeper hit of a record, Dissolve; Devolve sees the band stepping up just about everything in their dynamic, creating a crushing but unique take on deathcore that infuses melody and atmosphere into a backbone of brisk, bombastic aggression.
Dissolve; Devolve is a curious record that continues along the path Of Defiance set nearly a decade prior, blending experimental metal with a backbone of raw deathcore. From the onset of “Reverie,’ through the closing seconds of ‘Dead, Yet Growing Still,” the band stay true to their roots. Greg the Hero use punchy, strong percussion as a backbone for both their atmospheric moments and those moments laden with bombastic aggression. “Slowburn,” as well as the record’s title track see this dynamic play out beautifully, with strong percussion and groovy bass serving as the instrumental firmament for Greg the Hero’s dynamism. Here, fretwork ranging from lacerating, harsh and metallic leads to blossoming moments of breathtaking ambience ensnare the listener, with prominent, powerful percussion keeping steady pace. Other songs—“Bed Ov Nails” and “Kingmaker” come to mind—favor the band’s penchant for pure aggression over a balance of ethereality and energy. Here, the band feel, at their purest, like a deathcore act, with grisly, gory breakdowns reigning supreme. The band’s instrumental dynamism is profound, making Dissolve; Devolve a varied and diverse record while still feeling, for the most part, like a deathcore release. Some tracks—the aforementioned “Reverie,” as well as “Sleep”—do feel distinct from much of Dissolve; Devolve. While “Sleep” works as a means to balance some of the extremes abundant throughout the release, “Reverie,’ for lack of a better term, feels lost, and a truly curious way to kick off the release. Feeling more like a pseudo-aggressive post-metal cut, “Reverie” is Greg the Hero’s outlier; a song that stretched just a little too far, even within their own sprawling borders of dynamism.
Vocally, Greg the Hero bring many components of more contemporary heavy music into the fold, giving some youthful sheen to even the more traditional elements of their sound and style. “Kingmaker” and “Coffinless” both see the band’s vocals covering extreme highs and lows, while even “Reverie,” the relative outcast of the bunch, is home to a strong vocal display (that, in many ways, hits harder than the actual instrumentation). While Dissolve; Devolve might not be home to many of the more ear-catching vocal gimmicks that seem abundant in contemporary deathcore, the range and style employed by the band is sure enough to leave no listener in want; whether It be the visceral, gouging lows in “Void in Bridge and Whist” or the bitter, mid-range shrieks that define “Bed Ov Nails,” the band keep more than enough tricks up their collective sleeve to keep the listener engaged, and, at times, thoroughly stank-faced.
Greg the Hero might have taken their sweet time, but they provided a robust and ruthless full length release, no doubt or question about it. While, in honesty, it might be a stronger and more cohesive release without “Reverie,” and some of the back-half of the record seems to veer away from the pummeling, high-energy style of heavy music the band excel at in favor of adding more elements of whimsy, Dissolve; Devolve is nothing to sneeze at. For many, this will be their first exposure to the chimera that is Greg the Hero—and that’s okay, even as the release is a touch dense—because ultimately, throughout the majority of this record, we see Greg the Hero doing exactly what they do best; funky, furious and fun deathcore.
For Fans Of: Job For A Cowboy, Eyes of a Traitor, Underneath the Gun
By: Connor Welsh