Review: Graceful ‘Demiurgia’

Graceful hail from the south-western French city of Nantes and consist of François Orain – vocals/guitar/bass, Claude Orain – guitar/bass/backing vocals, Pierre Redondo – guitar/keyboard/backing vocals and Eddie Coutinho on drums. The band’s last release was 2017s No One Hears Us debut since when all has been quiet…until now.

Graceful 'Demiurgia'

According to Claude Orain, Demiurgia ‘is about psyche and its instabilities’, while my own research revealed that Demiurgia in platonic philosophy means the creator of the universe. The album was recorded live at Black Box Studios near Angers by Arthur Lauth and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of post-metal legends Cult of Luna.

The Passage starts the album with sinister whispered vocals which are accompanied by some cool hip-hop flavoured industrial sounds that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the 1994 Crow Soundtrack. Enemy is a short blast of Refused influenced post-hardcore with a tasteful angularity that stands in stark contrast to The Passage‘s more laid-back vibes. This should inform you at an early stage to expect the unexpected when it comes to Graceful. Title track Demiurgia takes you on yet another stylistic detour with some epic post-metal and smatterings of space-rock. A rich, meaty sound that is akin to a warm blanket enveloping you at night after a backbreaking day at work.

Water Bombs, the record’s first single, has a thick stoner rock groove but one imbued with a pop sensibility. Lazer Beam came to mind (who I reviewed earlier this year) as well as Queens of the Stone Age when they decent, i.e. – before the horrendous Mark Ronson produced travesty that was Villains. The halfway point of the album is marked by Two, a fascinating listen that at times features mellow jazz flavours as well as some Muse, not a band I’ve ever particularly cared for but who in this context worked.

fantastically audacious release…

Scrapes has a garage-rock sensibility with a blunt simplicity to the riffage and drumming which bore visions of The White Stripes, albeit one locked in with a cooler hip-hop infused groove. I Hope You Run Fast (If You Don’t Wanna Die) harnesses The Boredoms and Melt Banana’s eccentricities and is a track of two extremes – starting with pummelling noise-rock and ending with noodling Hawaiian/jazz guitar. I was certainly impressed with how coherent and effortless the band made this sound.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor were mentioned in the promo-notes and there is a post-rock vibe to be had with Dawn, however unlike that band, the track is amazingly compact and unpretentious. If you thought the rest of the album was tricky to categorise then Psylle practically defies description. Mr Bungle, from around the time of Disco Volante, Portishead? Who knows and it should be pointed out that this difficulty in ascribing any kind of genre or style to the track is to its credit. Crossing, the longest track on the album, again borrows from the land of the strange and may appeal to fans of Snakefinger, The Residents and even the more offbeat side of folk music. This ends the album on a considerably mellow note and is highly appreciated as it gives one the opportunity to properly process and reflect upon the long player in its entirety.

Listening to Demiurgia reminded me of the first time I heard Faith No More, when I fell in love with that band’s sheer breath-taking diversity. This is an album that may prove head scratching to some, hell it did for me at times, but I was encouraged in the main to give this fantastically audacious release repeated listens, which surely can only be a ringing endorsement.

Label: Vlad Productions
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills