Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today's 83rd TBT features Griseus, which is simply put one of the most underrated metal releases of this century.
Release Date: Late 2011
Record Label: ATMF released Griseus on CD and Blood Music released it on vinyl
It is rare that absolute masterpieces of metal fly so far below the popular radar; and yet we have found ourselves a gemerald of an album buried deep in the soft, blacked snows of metal's winter. Griseus is the product of one man: Horace Rosenqvist. I contacted Rosenqvist for further information about the album, but he declined an interview. He did provide me with the following statement, "I made Griseus on my own, but have a band to perform it live." Considering the vision and enormity of the endeavor, Griseus is by and large an absolute jaw-dropping masterpiece. Our own writers even struggled for words to describe the album during it's initial release in 2011/2012, and simply summed up the listening experience in one word: Wow.
Complex, emotional, symphonic, huge, sweeping, and ethereal only begin to describe the experience of listening to Griseus. Music this good is a blessing from the sacred, swirling pools of metal inspiration; and the fact that it is the labor of love from one man makes Griseus even more special. Griseus is a journey of black metal taking soft sabbaticals into symphonic and progressive death metal territories. Moments in songs like "Smokefall" bring the energy and beauty of early Opeth to mind:
Gorgeous and melancholic piano echoes through the tracks bringing about feelings of bittersweet longing and unanswered introspection. "In The Land of Ashes" is the perfect soundtrack to a walk through falling October leaves:
The tag for this video claims that the link is for an official music video, however I have no proof to back up that claim. It's a pretty video, so at the least you can enjoy the visual while listening to the song.
Griseus is unlike anything else I have ever heard. The atmosphere is drenched with brilliantly paired sonic collisions. The brutality of black metal blast beats dance with the simplicity of folk instrumentals. Echoing higher-pitched growls layer with the grandeur of symphonic exclamations such as violins and cymbals. Layered choral excerpts usher the atmosphere into a vast expansion of thought an intent. Griseus remains from start to finish at a particular heightened level of emotional zeal, and the journey through the hour and a half album is both inviting and compelling. Griseus combines what sound like 12-string guitars with tinkling piano into softer riffs that build intensity effortlessly. Check out the track "Loss":
The flawless transition of so many different instruments melds the concept of "Loss" together and breaths life into Rosenqvist's genius vision. Like my other reviewer here at Metal Injection stated, it is hard to encompass "wow" into just 500 words. Griseus is truely a beautiful and remarkable album. So, just go and listen to the album yourself. You can check out his Bandcamp here and support the band if you'd like. Griseus is also available on Spotify.
Photo by Chris Hosken