Grayceon is made up of Max Doyle (guitar), Jackie Perez Gratz (cello and voice), and Zack Farwell (drums). Their latest album, “MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES,” is a beautiful marriage of Progressive Metal drums and guitar with lively cello weaving itself throughout each piece. According to their Bandcamp page, “Grayceon‘s digital proceeds will to go to non-profits committed to addressing the causes and effects of climate crisis on wildlife and their habitats: Defenders of Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation Society.” Grayceon produces good music with good causes that help ease mind, soul, and Mother Earth. The album cover features a painting by Kevin Earl Taylor depicting a Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis; a symbol of transformation, rebirth, and renewal.
“MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES” greets the listener with a warm little embrace. The first track, “Diablo Winds,” sounds like the day beginning; the sun stretching upwards to reach the top of the sky. The pitter-patter of drums and a jangly guitar riff inspires imagery of running through fields of dry grasses. The song changes pace and the tone darkens into something a bit more menacing; the pummelling drums and guitar constantly changing direction brings to mind a fire now blazing through those same tall grasses. The cello tears its way through the noise like a bird struggling to make its way through the thick smoke rising.
The fire winds are coming strong
The future is dark, future is dark
The energy this track brings is addictive. The instrumentation is hefty, chaotic, catchy, and truly beautiful. Gratz’s voice floats above the mix like an urgent warning call.
Don’t look away
You must believe
The fire winds are coming strong
The wail of the cello melts tenderly into the gritty sway of the guitar. This track is so, so good, and it’s a wonderful way to start a wonderful record. The second track, “The Lucky Ones,” opens up with such a solid guitar line, moving the way smoke does with its curling and its growing higher and its folding in on itself; quickly changing and bending with any sudden breeze. The line of smoke slows its rise and begins to thin out. Gratz exhales a little mantra that tangles itself onto the curl of bouncing guitar and cello. The only way I can think of how to describe Gratz’s voice during this part is to have you imagine the way a tree creaks out when disturbed by a light wind; it’s a low, mournful sound that heaves cautiously back and forth.
If you want the moon don’t hide from the night
If you want the rose don’t hide from it’s thorns
If you want to love don’t hide from yourself
Worship the ground you walk on
Being over twelve minutes, you can expect the tone and pacing of this track to change up many times. The song breaks loose, flash-flood style, and moves along in a jouncing fashion. Staccato cello notes spring out here and there and float nicely along with the more aggressive-sounding guitar riffs that rapidly cascade over the weighty drums.
We are all mothers of this place we call home
We are all weavers of this fabric we shroud ourselves in
We are all vultures feeding on what’s left for dead
The lyrics seem to speak of the cyclical fashion nature moves in, and the role we all play within this wheel. We live, we make, we feast, we die. The guitar work nearing the 8:00 mark makes the song sound like it is finally above water after tumbling through the aforementioned flood. It sounds and feels so lush with its concave curves and plentiful curls that give way to a brief chugging that rises and falls with the ferocity of the drums spilling over the sides. It’s a whirlwind of warm tones crashing into one another, coming to a halt after a momentary return to the mood at the beginning of the song. The third song, “This Bed,” opens with the forceful intrusion of the guitar being tailed by a fluttering cello line and steady drums moving along in a sort of slow trudge.
In this bed you have made
Stripped of melting sheets and disgrace
Don’t look back and don’t you dare look away
Just crawl right back in to this bed we’ve made
The song arrives at the first verse. The guitar line seems inquisitive and pairs well with the questioning of the lyrics.
Is it too late to say sorry?
Will tomorrow come?
The drums increase in intensity, and the cello sails along in mourning, returning to the chorus. Coming in at just under twelve minutes, this song manages to keep each second fresh and palatable. The song leaves from the second verse and slows itself down to allow the sorrowful whine of the cello to ring out as the metallic tap of the drums drifts along. The next set of lyrics blows in with a chorus of warbling voices that sounds like dejected, early morning birds setting their low-spirited coos out into the first frost.
Heaviness hangs in the air and in the silence
We never lose all our demons, we survive them
Breathing smoldering remains is devotion
Devastation without a trace of emotion
The song changes once again into a brighter set of sounds. The drums skip along and push the song toward its dynamic and lively end. The next song, “And Shine On,” begins with the thumbing of strings that gives way to energetic hammering. The cello glides out like fog encroaching on a pond, but quickly changes into something more similar to the sting of striking rain. The vocal line demands,
Don’t let them break you down
Down, down, down…
The song moves along like a coming storm; quick, unexpected, and in a calmly threatening manner. The layering of voices at the 2:10 mark filling the heart with momentary fear. The drums hit like the warning sprinkle of rain that raps against the window, eventually tumbling into the thick, fat drops that announce the arrival of a heavy downpour. The song ends with a quiet hum. The final track, “Rock Steady,” starts with a voice soft enough to rock a cradle, a guitar line that twirls in like the path of a winged maple seed, and the cello slides back and forth in a gentle aching manner.
Somewhere under the rainbow
That’s where you’ll find me. We won’t be together forever
But I’ll always be right here for you
The drums slowly and quietly thump in, and the song lifts up into more cheerful notes. The guitar moves like individual droplets of rain each sliding down the inner ridge of a leaf until they all quickly come together and topple off. Gratz sings,
My one and only.
The early portion of the song sounds like the day winding down; the sun now beginning to hide itself beyond the ridge, darkening the surroundings as it descends. The peculiar sound of the cello mixes the tones of despair with the brightness of hope; another day will begin again. The 4:00 mark brings in an unexpected heaviness as Gratz lets out a few screams and the instruments gain a bit of momentum and intensity. The song fades out, and a beautiful album comes to a close.
The imagery this album produces is rich and truly awe-inspiring. Each member of Grayceon has perfected their respective craft. Gratz’s voice and cello playing is something remarkable. The drums are crisp, steady, and bring a faultless amount of intensity and force. The guitar work is undeniably striking and magnificently elaborate, and there were many, many, many times where I had to keep replaying a specific section of a song to really listen to what was going on with the playing. It’s all so good. I highly urge multiple re-listens for this album to really get everything out of it. A good, forceful wringing, if you will.
Rating – 5/5
And right here is a fantastic interview Schultzie did with Jackie so please check it out!