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Music Review

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Green and Gray


Artist: Pile
Label: Exploding in Sound
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 03 May 2019

Exploding In Sound Records releases Green and Gray, Pile’s seventh album since their humble beginnings in 2007 – and their first since 2017’s A Hairshirt of Purpose. The band – or, at least the singer – originate from Boston, USA, and are now based in Nashville. Pile comprises Rick Maguire on vocals, Kris Kuss on drums, Chappy Hull on guitar and Alex Molini on bass. The music is described as anything from Indie Rock to Post-Hardcore...

It’s nice when you come across a Rock or Metal band that is doing something radically different from the norm. The first thing which strikes me about Pile is their conscious effort to mix things up and not conform to standard chord patterns and direction. In my opinion, if a sound is too simplistic in style you are likely to become bored with it pretty quickly. Whereas, like here, if the structure is more inventive and intelligent you don’t get a handle on it straight away and are more likely to give it repeated plays.

This release incorporates so much variance it’s difficult to know where to start. So, how about at the front? The main man Rick Maguire’s voice is diverse, to say the least. Just when you think it is dull and mid-range, it suddenly turns on a sixpence becoming low and sorrowful, thick and powerful, or outright screamed vocals. The feel of the songs break boundaries by not only constantly changing the shape of the track but changing the music’s presence. At times, light, moody or melancholic, atmospheric, imposing or intrusive. It’s an original and exciting manner in which to keep your listening audience on their toes.

Right from the off, 'Firewood' begins like an underground psychedelic tune, which seems to switch between commercial hooks and Industrial Rock, light and shade keeping you off-balance. The drumming impressed me, being both extremely solid and yet experimental. There is a nice off-beat pattern in 'Your Performance'. The overall timing and structure in this keeps it fresh. I simply love the fast-paced, almost Western theme to 'On a Bigger Screen'. The singer sounds much better when he goes-for-it, too. There is a slow and dreamy, somewhat off-kilter ending which gives it true atmosphere. In 'Other Moons', the vocals are pitched even higher. 'Hair' is more slow and moody, with plaintive vocals that are pitched even higher this time.

'A Labyrinth With No Centre' has a reflective semi-acoustic start which turns into a heavy, full band breakthrough. The shouted vocals sound even more exciting than the clean ones. 'The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller' has a sort of indignant talking over a back riff that suddenly comes to life. Both spoken and screamed vocals, with a heavy discordance and nice drum pattern. 'Lord of Calendars' showcases the light and dark flourishes; a commercial ballad sound is suddenly ripped apart with a heavy hammer guitar and drum beat. This one interestingly goes off on a tangent.

'Bruxist Grin' is an alternative moderate Pop-Rock offering, reminiscent of the Revolver or White Album period of The Beatles. 'A Bug on Its Back' could be a good choice as a single, with a nice returned-to riff and not too much deviation. 'My Employer' sets an old and retrospective background, slow, stylish and melancholy. An almost dreamy reality, if that isn’t a contradiction. This segues neatly into 'Hiding Places'. This and 'No Hands' are very similar in style, and so should probably have been split up on the album. It would also have been nice to have something with a bit more energy wrap-up this offering. But how can you complain about something as refreshing as this. It has the vitality of a keen amateur band knocking it out in the garage and annoying the neighbours, but with professionalism and inventiveness. A pleasant surprise.


Ty Power

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