GREYBORN make stoner rock miracles with new EP “Scars”.

Written by Album Review, Chronique

Greyborn follows their own path. Avoiding traps and derailing from imposed figures, the Limoges trio returns their sophomore EP with “Scars”, being more powerful, ambitious and heavier than the previous one. Once again self-released, it is all the more important to highlight as our scene, let’s face it, tends to rely too much on releases coming from the five or six key labels of the genre. Let’s decipher the breath of fresh air that is “Scars”.

The trajectory is well known. For almost two decades in France, stoner rock bands teetering on the more modern side of the spectrum have invariably ended up veering towards more pompous, less heavy and less abrasive pop-infused music. So much so that the French stoner rock landscape is split between those who fill in mainstream pop rock festivals and those who dive into vintage 70s influences or go into ultra-specific niches. I have more of an appetite for the latter, but in order to survive, our scene needs more modern acts that can provide a qualitative gateway to this magical universe.

And then there is Greyborn. For once, here is a band that seeks to mix its poppiest and punchiest influences without the slightest concession on their abrasiveness. Modern yet massive. Rock to the core yet undeniably stoner rock, Greyborn is making its way into the French scene and this new EP proves it strongly.

The 5 tracks from “Scars” all have some key elements in common. First of all, the power. Between round but distortion-laden bass tones and a guitar sound with the wildest mids, we navigate through an efficient and appealing stoner rock reminiscent of the late 2000s. On the drums side, the production remains very natural and having seen the combo live, we’re very close here to the sound and energy we get when they opened for Mondo Generator or Nebula. Vocals get purposedly slightly lost in the mix and highlight their obvious affiliation to the stoner rock scene.

Besides the production which oscillates between a modern grain and a stoner heaviness, there is the songwriting. And this is surely where the progression is the most remarkable for Greyborn. Up until now, it was their energy and their freshness that had seduced us. This time around there is way much more mastery in structures and arrangements. The choruses and melodies get stuck in your head. The guitar parts, whether the riffs or the leads, all have that little something that catches the ear. And each title significantly expands the realm of possibilities for the trio, without ever losing the coherence of the EP.

The record opens on the eponymous track “Scars” shocking us with an unsuspected darkness, this grain of voluptuous fuzz and these guitar riffs reminding us of the heyday of Dozer or the first releases of Qotsa, all the while the vocals are more reminiscent of Lowrider. “Ravenous” is the first single and it’s an incredibly satisfying track. Almost noise rock in its dissonance, the main riff is the kind that gets into your skull and never comes out. A total success.

With “A Thousand Dreams Away”, it is a noisier and ambient facet that the band offers us, before Theo’s drumming — a tribute to QOTSA’s “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar but I Feel Like a Millionaire” — catch us by surprise in full-blown desert and rock’n’roll mode. If some will see it as an energetic anthem worthy of the “RocknRolla” soundtrack, the rough production allows it to stand out in the best possible way.

“Tetany” is a simple, calm and delicate interlude before “The Grand Design” concludes the EP in a heroic fashion. Heavier, more epic and offering us an almost doom finish.

Let it be said, this EP is a superb delivery in a register, at the crossroads of genres, oh so difficult to do well. The Limougeauds have been traveling across France for several years now, solidifying, on the road, a sonic identity that is further refined with this EP. How many future festival-goers of a Desertfest Nantes (first edition in 2032, you will have read it here first) will explain to us that they fell into stoner by listening to Greyborn? The bets are open.

ARTIST: Greyborn
GENRE: Stoner rock
LABEL: Auto-produit
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Last modified: 27 March 2024