The Banner has always been a band that embraced the darker side of their style. Being a hardcore band that tends to them lean closer to metal than punk, the band have always made their own version of this general style. Whether it was the more youthful style of their early album Your Murder Mixtape or later with the murky overtones of Frailty. The band has always managed their own path and for that they've gotten loyal fans.
Imagine the surprise when it was announced that the band had signed a new record deal and would be releasing a new album. This comes about 6 years since their last album the aforementioned Frailty. So, with little knowledge as to what exactly to expect, I waited for my chance to hear the album as a whole.
Greying is a tough record upon first listen. While it isn't entirely foreign in sound, it isn't completely familiar either. The vocals remain strong and forceful, eyeing the abyss while yelling into it. The music retains a darkened edge throughout.
Starting with "The Dying of The Light" the band focuses in allowing a slow build with noise, spoken samples, and distant screams before finally caving in at the 2 minute mark with a trudging, despairing stomper of a song. By the time the breakdown hits a minute later it manages to be both crushing and artistic. The guitar gives the song an almost doomy quality backing the despairing vocals with a matching guitar tone. The next two songs manage to blaze by in a more expected fashion giving into the rage expressed in the vocals. Then the song "Sunlight" hits and the unexpected happens. All dark--no hardcore--just electronics, drums, and a vocal line reminiscent of Pete Steele. This gives in fully to the darker temptations the band has always carried in their sound and gives the listener something different, something more broadened and fully realized. This sound returns more clearly a few tracks later with the dark "Send Me Down," giving the whole band a chance to play with their darker and calmer instincts before breaking into a full-on screaming heavy song. This marks a complete encapsulation of Greying as a record. It shows the more grown up and dark version of the band without forgoing what they have previously pinpointed as their style.
Instead of allowing for the slightly cartoony art used in the past, Greying reflects these notes by incorporating a stark black white and grey. The detailed flowers and bones give a fair artistic expression of the music contained therein, showing the more delicate and dreary side while retaining the darkness and despair that always made the banner what they are.
While it wouldn't be hard to imagine a few fans being upset about the inclusion of new ideas it would be hard to find a reason not to give this record a fair bit of time. With the change of sound it gives the listener a more complete and fulfilling experience. This is The Banner in 2014, not 2008, and it would be unfair to expect a retread; all of their records have been different while remaining wholly their own. Nothing has changed and yet it has. The band has grown and given us something to embrace fully.
9.2 / 10
Posted Feb. 4, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
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