by Tom Roden
Believe it or not but, long before it became a cash and fame grab industry, music was originally conceived as an artform. While there are many pop artists in the current scene (that we won’t name, of course) that defy this definition and reduce music to little more than a cash cow of vague expression, there are a handful – such as H. Grimace – that keep the artistry in being a music artist.
With that in mind, in should come as no surprise that H. Grimace’s second album Self Architect is a bold release packed full of artistic expression and, of course, noisy alt-rock. This is not your typical alternative album and it is not your usual kind of sophomore release hungry for mainstream approval or radio airtime. Self Architect is noisy, self-indulgent, raw, visceral and messily artistic. It is not for everyone and it does not strive to be.
Of course, that’s not to say that the album doesn’t hold anything that will be accessible to alt-rock fans. Opener ‘Thoroughbred’, for example, is a perfect chugging alt-rock number that sounds equal parts refined and raw, with an accessible feeling of doom that seems like Hannah Gledhill (vox/guitar) is preaching the apopalypse. Then conversely there is tracks like ‘Land/Body’, which starts broodingly before transforming midway through into a catastrophic track that echoes early Biffy Clyro in its relentless energy.
But there are two tracks in particular that really accentuate the prioritisation of artistry on the release, which are ‘2.1 Woman’ and ‘The Dial’ respectively. Both tracks take a more spoken-word approach, while still being set to the usual semi-dissonance that is the band’s signature doomsday sound. ‘2.1 Woman’ is the standout of these, with the band teaming up with poet Vivienne Griffin delivering a cutting soliloquay to set the tone and really underline the fact that this is an artistic release and a band that values artistry.
After enduring/enjoying (delete as appropriate) the full 40 minutes of the album, there is no doubt that H. Grimace is an artistic outfit. Sure, there will be many that are turned off by the ‘heaviness’ of the album – there is no pause for breath or brief glimpse of a poppy sound – but the main strength of this release is its sheer disinterest in being accepted by masses. This is a cornerstone philosophy of many alternative acts, as it has been since the days of the first punk movement decades ago, but H. Grimace seem to be the real deal.
Abandon hope all ye casual listeners who listen here.