Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Artist of the Day: Greeley Estates

Metalcore is an interesting genre. Spanning technical musicians such as August Burns Red and the more traditional scream-verse sing-chorus Killswitch Engage, the genre seems to have fallen in a rut of cookie cutter bands spewn out from labels like Victory and Rise. Greeley Estates, the once post-hardcore band gone metal, are one of the exceptions. Blending the heaviest riffs and blast beats with curveball production and memorable vocals is what Greeley Estates is all about, and they're doing mainstream metalcore the right way.

After releasing the EP Caveat Emptor and the following full-length Far From The Lies in the mid-2000's, the band made a decision to add more metallic elements to their sound. Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East is a pretty standard album for the time period: heavily produced chugs and breakdowns with scream-yells over the choruses. Many other bands like Drop Dead, Gorgeous were pulling off the same act, although Greeley Estates did it with more precision and
care. “Blue Morning” shows the band's metalcore sound at it's finest, while “If I Could Be Frank, You're Ugly” blends melodic vocals with infectious guitar riffs.

The band's follow up No Rain, No Rainbow builds upon Go West Young Man, upping the distortion factor, snipping the clean vocals, and adding elements of death metal. The intentionally muddy production was met with polarized criticism, and songs feature guest vocals from various members of Blessthefall. The album, overall, is more commercial and places  the band alongside The Devil Wears Prada and other mainstream heavy acts. Fan favorite “I Shot the Maid” has one of the most memorable mosh calls in recent history, even if the lyrics are a bit silly.

Shortly after, the band released The Death Of Greeley Estates and reintroduced some of the clean vocals into the mix. The lyrics are more story-driven, channeled through a blend of caustic screeches and lighthearted emo croonings. Once again, the band's production adds a distinct element of muddy reverb that doesn't sound like any other. The gloomy acoustic track “December” shows the band's willingness to step outside the metalcore box to revisit their past, adding itself as one of the best songs in the band's catalog.

In 2012 and 2013, the band took the reins and went on to produce The Narrow Road and Devil Son independently, two half-albums of the band's best material. On first listen, The Narrow Road sounds more mature with stronger song structure, placing it miles above their previous material. The odd production choices are gone, and songs like “Watch It Burn” and “Lennox House” explore a sludgier, slower sound. The second half, Devil Son, is a more refined and accessible record that exemplifies the progression that contemporary heavy acts must experience to stay relevant. “Marionette” borrows much from Deftones while “Turn the Night Away” ups the atmospheric tension by blending post-hardcore riffs, passionate vocals, and heavy breakdowns to create a dynamic and moody monster. Still, the band loves to set that progression aside to be as heavy as possible on songs like “Lot Lizards” and “Die.” Sometimes you just want to be angry.

Greeley Estates has had a strong and progressive career, and they aren't going to stop anytime soon. If Devil Son is any indication, the band will continue to evolve past the current clichés and incorporate elements from other genres. Until then, check out the band's catalog and enjoy.You can stream it on Spotify, or check out the two most recent releases on Bandcamp.

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