Well, that was a short album. At only thirty-five minutes long, doom/sludge metal group Giant Squid have almost halved the runtime of their previous album, The Ichthyologist, for the release of their third studio album, Cenotes.
But what does brevity matter, when the music is top quality? This album is every bit as weighty as the giant squi--er, creatures on the cover look, and each song produces all the massive, cavernous feelings of music echoing in a large, acoustically forgiving sinkhole. The presence of Eastern-inspired instruments and melodies, in contrast with the generally more straightforward metal, give the album an otherworldly feeling. The opener "Tongue Stones" in particular makes good use of those influences, and the juxtaposition of the Eastern sounds with uncomfortable time signatures in the beginning only elevates the unusual sensation. This trick also works well on the closer "Cenotes," dragging the listener along on an incredibly awkward, yet still engrossing, dance. Those aren't the only strong moments, though. "Snakehead" features some interesting, jazzy, up-tempo dance rhythms that play well with the instrumentation; it's hard not to conjure up some traditional and ritualistic images from it. The vocals on the album range from the usual growling to the most uncomfortable tonal singing I have ever heard. I don't mean it in a bad way, however; "Mating Scars" has some of the most interesting vocals I've heard all year.
While all of that does go a long way, it's hard to shake the feeling that the music isn't exactly breaking boundaries. It more or less sticks to the standard progressive/post-metal songwriting structure without throwing in any variation or curve balls. It sounds almost the same, if somewhat weaker, than The Ocean Collective's Precambrian or Dead to a Dying World's eponymous debut. While the Eastern influences are certainly welcome, they aren't really enough to carry the album on their own. Though there is certainly a measure of creativity and spice to their sound, Giant Squid nonetheless make a tough argument for listening to their album over any other.
While it's not a bad release, it's not particularly standout either. Fans of post-metal who enjoy the delicacy strings bring to the genre will enjoy Cenotes, as will any other fans of the genre who simply do not tire of it. It's enjoyable, if you don't mind the fact that you've been here many times before already. If you're interested in the band's sound but want a higher-quality release, you're better off listening to sophomore album, the beautifully doom-laden Metridium Fields.
7.0 / 10
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