THE DEMO CORNER
A funny thing happened when I went to burn the promo files for Aquilus' Griseus onto a CD-R. When I added all of the songs to the burn list, the CD burning program told me that the disc was full. It didn't say that a little time was still available on the CD-R, nor did it say that an additional disc would be needed because the track list had run overtime. The burn list just read "full," plain and simple. This was something I had never experienced before and probably never will again. Who would bother to create an album that is the exact length of a CD? The answer my friends is "Aquilus," a one-man Australian "band" that over the course of seventy-nine minutes and fifty-five seconds will blow your mind with the fact that something so massive and powerful can be created by one person alone.
Aquilus has a very broad sound that draws from various dark sources such as Opeth, Agalloch, Anathema, and above all, cinematic soundtracks. In fact, within each "true song" there are long stretches of epic soundtrack music that effectively connect the entire album into one unbelievably intimidating and time-consuming piece. Griseus almost answers the question, "What would it sound like if Opeth created a soundtrack for an epic movie?"
To take the movie comparison further, approaching Griseus is like sitting down to watch an epic four-hour film. First, you better have a lot of time on your hands. Second, you will need to give the work your undivided attention. Much like the best movies of this sort, Griseus is highly enjoyable and completely immersive, but when it's over it leaves you totally exhausted. As with an impressive film, you may want to run out and tell your friends about the album. After they've experienced it too, you might want to discuss it's finer points. However also like a four-hour movie, Griseus is not the kind of work that you will return to on a daily basis. Who has the time to devote to an album like this very often? That is, if you intend to listen to Griseus in its entirety each time.
Musically, Griseus holds its own with the genre masters of dramatic dark metal and even carves its own niche. Sure, you can pick out influences in some of the songs. Opeth is one of the more consistently obvious ones. For example, the initial riff from the album's first track, "Nihil," sounds like it was lifted straight from an Opeth record. There are other brief moments that wouldn't feel out of place on an Agalloch album or a mid-period Anathema classic, but as a whole Griseus is a unique achievement. The sheer scope of the album, and the seamless blending of the soundtrack elements gives Griseus a one-of-a-kind feel. Words like "stunning," "magnificent," and "cinematic" all apply. To think that Griseus was created by one man is shocking since the songs are all so well-arranged. In addition, the flawless production helps underscore all of the albums strengths. Having said all of that, "grandiose," "pompous," and "self-indulgent" would also be fitting descriptors. It really all depends on the listener's perspective and attitude. This album is a conundrum because the very thing that gives it a unique voice and helps it to succeed, its sheer magnitude, is the same thing that will make it impenetrable for some listeners. A little restraint might have given the album more direct impact, but that's not really what Griseus is about.
One thing is for sure, the only way to truly appreciate Griseus is to spend a lot of time with it. And I mean a lot. This is an album for those who like to immerse themselves in the listening experience. Aquilus has given those listeners a rare and remarkable gift teeming with atmosphere, dynamics, and melancholy.
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4. In Lands of Ashes
5. Latent Thistle
6. Arboreal Sleep
7. The Fawn
8. Night Bell
Total playing time: 79:55
Release Date: 2012
Label: A Sad Sadness Song
Aquilus - Griseus
June 30, 2012