(Andy Synn shares his thoughts on the new album from Grant The Sun, out tomorrow)
Remember when – oh, about a month ago now – I mentioned how it was looking like 2023 was going to be a distinctly proggy year for me?
Well then, you may recall that I also committed to reviewing three albums in particular which I had high hopes for, so consider this write-up of Voyage step one in my attempt to fulfil that promise.
To begin with, let me lay out a little bit of back-story for Grant The Sun – while they’re not entirely new to this (having produced a number of EPs – all instrumental – already), this is their first full-length album and their first release to incorporate vocals (shared between the band’s two guitarists, Martin Rygge and Markus Johnsen).
As you can imagine then, Voyage is a big step for the band… but also a very successful one, with the final product sharing a similar sense of cinematic scope to France’s Hypno5e, while simultaneously reaching up towards the soaring melodic highs of The Blueprint Dives-era Extol and delving deep into the immersive depths of The Ocean (circa Pelagial).
All these elements are immediately apparent (to a greater or lesser extent) during opulent opener “Blue Desert”, which begins with a slowly swelling surge of rhythmic Post-Metallic riffs on top of which the band then go on to add layer upon layer of gleaming melodies, glowing synths, and gentle vocals melodies which- piece by piece – begin to build to a luminous crescendo, before the sonic waves crash back down into an ebbing stillness.
This formula, such as it is, continues to serve the group well over the course of the album, while still allowing them to vary their approach in ways which keep it feeling fresh and exciting throughout, with the moody, post-Meshuggah riffs and pristine progressive touches of songs like “Death Is Real” and the eponymous “Grant The Sun” recalling the best of Pre-Djent/Post-Metal pioneers Benea Reach, while the intricate instrumentation and elegant atmospherics of “Mariana” and “Seadevil” could (and should) appeal just as much to fans of latter-day Lantlôs as to disciples of Devin Townsend at his most eloquent and expressive.
And while it does, at points, still feel as though the band are in a slightly transitional state, still building their creative momentum and discovering what they’re capable of even as they push themselves past their previous limits, there’s no question that Voyage represents the beginning of a whole new era – one rich in both emotional resonance and as-yet-untapped potential – for Grant The Sun.