The Ottawa-based duo They Grieve (Gary Thibert and Deniz Güvenç) made their advent with the EP I Made My Sacrifice Accordingly in late 2016, and now, a substantial number of years later, they’re moving toward the release of their first full-length, To Which I Bore Witness, which they recorded at Apartment 2 with Topon Das of Fuck the Facts. The band readily acknowledge that this new music is a departure from what you might have heard on the EP, and thus should be considered in its own right, standing alone. As Deniz explains:
“This album, both lyrically and musically, tries to capture the uncomfortable juxtaposition between weakness and weight. We are constantly trying to express the ways in which the ugliness and decay we see in the world sets itself down and plants its roots inside of us—how the weight of the world transforms into our own weakness once it has done so. We try to capture this feeling of juxtaposition and tension within the music itself by oscillating between ambient, textural drones and heavy, doom-laden riffs.”
As a sign of the changes, what we have for you today is the new album’s title track, which is paired with a video that’s as mysterious and as interesting to watch as the song is to hear.
Lyrically, the song is one piece of a longer discourse that moves through the entire album, but in many ways it sums up the thoughts and feelings of the album as a whole, as described in the quotation above.
The video undoubtedly was conceived as a representation of conversations within the band “about succumbing to depression—about how the ugliness and trauma we see in the world sets itself to work inside of us as individuals, plants its roots in us, and decays from without to within”, but the video is also open to interpretation. It was directed, shot, and edited by Cory Thibert, and was choreographed and performed by Linnea Gwiazda.
In the song itself, the music lumbers like a wounded leviathan, staggering ahead with terrific heaviness through corrosive chords and pounding drums — and unexpectedly, it also gets significantly louder, all the better to crush the listener into submission. Enhancing the daunting atmosphere of the music, the vocals scar the senses with harsh howls of ruinous torment, and a guitar wails in bitter grief.
Suddenly, just as the video’s protagonist lands on a barren beach (to meet her other self), the music dramatically changes. A slow piano melody ethereally rings in moody but mesmerizing fashion above a humming bass and steady beats. That interlude only seems to magnify the bruising impact of what follows it. The piano still rings, but the rough reverberations that surround it abrade like heavy-grit sandpaper, and the screams reach new heights of harrowing intensity.
The drums boom, the chords scrape and moan, the feeling of immense desolation becomes staggering. The protagonist buries the box she removed from within forest roots and wanders away, alone.
To Which I Bore Witness is set for release by Silent Pendulum Records on February 24th of the coming year, and it’s recommended for fans of The Body, Cult of Luna, Bell Witch, Thou, and Year of No Light. It was mastered by Dave Williams at Eight Floors Above and includes cover artwork by Pascale Arpin.
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Photo Credit – Ev Osmanovic