[21 December 2006]
If, at a glance, Giant Squid appears as the latest cephalopod to squirm onto the crowded NeurIsis bandwagon, a listen will refute such facile overdetermination. Yes, there are lumbering riffs aplenty, interspersed with much post-shoegaze ambience; yes, Mastodon has already drenched us in nautical obsessions on Leviathan. But if Giant Squid is presumably not unaware of such confluences, neither does it simply let the current dictate its course. Married couple Aaron and Aurielle Gregory share a compelling vocal interplay, and when she takes charge on the ethereal “Versus the Siren”, the effect is closer to Heaven or Las Vegas than Blood Mountain (she also provides a welcome respite from the album’s largest flaw, which is her husband’s tendency to sing in an operatic style too reminiscent of System of a Down at their most bombastic). Kimberly Freeman’s keyboards often inspire a proggy disorientation that nicely complements the waves of doom-dirge, and the band effectively resists the crescendocentric teleology of its peers on the monolithic title track, which rides a dense riff for twenty minutes, with only some delightfully 1960s pop keyboards at the halfway mark acting as a beacon to save one from being swept out to sea by the crashing waves of the song’s glowering intensity.