REVIEW: Invent Animate – Greyview [2020]

Artist: Invent Animate

Album: Greyview

            Light, darkness and illusion have been used metaphorically for the benevolent and wicked (respectively) aspects of human life for eons—at least since Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, wherein shadow was cast to represent those less desirable components of what it means to live. Since Plato’s landmark entry into existential philosophy, shadows have been explored further; often castigated, but why? Japanese literary titan Junichiro Tanizake casts more light on this in his 1933 work, In Praise of Shadows, where he describes that by juxtaposing darkness and gloom, the radiance brought to life by light is made that much brighter—that shadows play a pronounced role in defining the good in life by bringing more attention to it through contrast. Tanizake—and others—contest that shadows are not only treated unfairly, but are infact necessary for those good things in life to be truly good. So when Invent Animate’s long-awaited comeback release opens with “Dark” and the lyrics “I lost my shadow” within, the band foreshadowed infinitely more than they might have even realized about the thought-provoking, introspective and engaging adventure that is Greyview. To be honest, I’ve struggled with how best to build this introduction—as Invent Animate’s third full-length release nearly defies description—toying with themes and emotions until this one happened to click, but the takeaway is simple: Greyview is everything a progressive metalcore record should be, needs to be and ought to aim for. Beautifully blending harmony, melody and ruthless aggression into a melting pot of groove and technicality, Invent Animate return to the scene as if they were never really gone, instantaneously reminding the listener why their absence left so many torn asunder.

            Progressive metalcore is a tricky beast to tame—we’ve seen several releases this year already throw their hats into that ring, with some doing better than others—but if nothing else, it’s added integrity to the notion that to create a truly great progressive metalcore record, a lot of things need to be balanced near-perfectly. Fortunately for Invent Animate, Greyview manages it all and then some. From the enthralling atmosphere defining the opening portion of “Dark,” through the blitz that is “Reflection Room,” throes of thunderous aggression within “Brightwing” and the stellar conclusion in “Nova,” Invent Animate brilliantly blend technicality, ethereality and aggression, period. Percussionist Trey Celaya nails every song firmly into place with punchy, strong drumming. “Reflection Room” puts this on display beautifully, oscillating between speed and punctual, powerful patterns, contrasting a crushing, deep kick drum with bright, splashy cymbals. “Nova,” as well as lead single “Cloud Cascade” further showcase Celaya’s talent, especially as the latter brightly blends catchy, dancy patterns with hard-hitting breakdowns, made all the harder by bassist Caleb Sherradan. Sherradan’s bass adds depth and grit throughout Greyview, with “Dark” and “Brightwing”—although oppositely named—work together to put that on display. “Brightwing” especially uses Sherradan’s bass and Celaya’s percussion to strike a very careful balance between uplifting melody and raw, ruthless aggression, oscillating back and forth between the two like waves during a long, high tide. This contrast, like all of the contrasts drawn between light and dark, heavy and soft, aggressive and embracing, is defined by Keaton Goldwire’s fretwork. There isn’t a single second in a single song that Goldwire doesn’t dazzle the listener with his skills, be it his raunchy breakdowns or mind-blowing fleetly-fretted riffs. “Hollow Light,” “Dark” and “Halcyon” exemplify this, but as mentioned previously, really all of Greyview does. Goldwire’s guitar work outshines not only Invent Animate’s peers, but his previous works—a feat some thought impossible given the overwhelming success of Stillworld—and in doing so, lends enormous strength to an unstoppable instrumental experience.

            The biggest question mark going into Invent Animate’s comeback would be addressing the departure of their vocalist Ben English, whose voice had become as much a staple of the band’s dynamic as the stunning guitars or energetic drums. In English’s wake, there was worry and concern—and as it works out, it was largely for naught. Greyview sees frontman Marcus Vik stepping up to the plate, and not only does he fill massive shoes, he sets a new precedent for the band in the process. From “Dark” to “Nova,” Vik’s vocals are nothing short of incredible, and the images he provides with his lyrics are second to none. Ranging from musing on the metaphysical and philosophical to tales of introspective self-doubt and depression, Greyview sees Vik channeling many of the elements English did perfectly while adding his own flair. Take “Reflection Room,” for example—where Vik’s grisly low screams contrast his shrill, high mainstay style. “Brightwing” is another, where his vocals run the low-to-high gamut while including harshly belted sections of singing to provide even more depth and contrast. Finally, “Shapeshifter,” featuring Silent Planet’s Garrett Russell, is mesmerizing from start to finish, boasting an extremely catchy chorus sandwiched by Vik and Russel raising hell over spastic, jarring breakdowns. While I feel it’s safe to say that Greyview is Invent Animate’s heaviest offering (at least since Everchanger), that doesn’t hamper Vik’s ability to be a dynamic juggernaut, using soothing singing (“Dark”), grisly bellows (“Brightwing”) and really everything in between to make Greyview as captivating vocally as it is instrumentally.

            As someone who has kept up with Invent Animate since Waves, I knew I was going to like Greyview, but I have a confession—I didn’t think I would put it at the same level as Stillworld. While the band has established a primitive trend of one-upping their previous releases with each new record, the amount of type and hype surrounding Greyview’s unveiling led me to believe it wouldn’t hit me the same way. I’ve honestly never been happier to admit I was wrong. Greyview doesn’t just one-up Stillworld, it makes it look like child’s play. Everything there is to love about Invent Animate has been distilled, concentrated and re-expounded upon ten thousand fold throughout Greyview’s near-hour duration. Heavier than ever before, yet all the more beautiful and captivating, Invent Animate have contributed a record I consider to be a bastion of progressive metalcore—a record that not only all others in the genre will be compared against, but a record that brings life and—yeah, color—to heavy music as a whole.


For Fans Of: Northlane, Currents, Silent Planet, Spirit Breaker

By: Connor Welsh