Release Date: Apr 22, 2016
Record label: Carpark Records
Two records in and it certainly feels as though the Toronto-based noise-punk quartet Greys are tapping into something rather exceptional. With their 2014 debut If Anything, the group established themselves as keen and critical observers of the angst-ridden punk scene that they were thriving within. Their follow-up record, Outer Heaven, has taken that lyrical formula and spun it into a dense, textured opus that has set the band apart from many of their peers as their ire is directed toward an ever-widening set of societal problems.
Within the first ten seconds of Greyâ€™s sophomore album Outer Heaven, you can tell everything has changed. When Shehzaad Jiwaniâ€™s voice enters, it feels though maybe youâ€™ve played another band entirely. What a difference two years makes.Jiwani said the mellow feel of first track â€œCrueltyâ€ juxtaposes the songâ€™s lyrical darkness.
Toronto post-punk outfit Greys hit their stride on Outer Heaven, their full-length follow-up to 2014's acclaimed If Anything. While it's not an overly dramatic musical shift from the aggressive clamor of their debut, this second outing feels like pure creative growth. Living up to their name, Greys work in a netherworld between genres where hardcore catharsis-meets-post-punk detachment and indie rock cool.
It takes less than a minute into Outer Heaven to know that Greys have ventured into new and innovative territory on their second studio album. When "Cruelty" opens with its simple, plodding quarter notes on a single electric guitar, it would be in character for the Toronto punks to suddenly careen into harsh noise, banging out a rip-roaring amalgam of shouted melodies, crashing instruments and guitar feedback. They don't, though — well, not yet — and the strikingly dulcet opener sets the tone for a sound that's still distinctly Greys, but more multi-dimensional than in the past.
For the past five Halloweens, Toronto has played host to Death to T.O., a marathon two-level party where 20-odd local bands dress up as some iconic group and cover a bunch of their songs in rotating 20-minute mini-sets. Last October, noise-punk quartet Greys performed as Smashing Pumpkins, a ruse that required not just an aesthetic suspension of belief (no dollar-store blond wig can make hulking bassist Colin Gillespie look like D'Arcy) but an ideological one as well. Essentially, the Pumpkins are Greys' polar opposites.
On their second album, Toronto four-piece Greys are searching for meaning. Whether it’s working to unpack identity and racism, self-doubt and mental health struggles, or breakups and frustration, Greys are constantly working to achieve some sort of resolution that seems innately unattainable. This conflict unfolds throughout 10 enthralling tracks that stagger between steady, tense slowcore and pounding, noisy cacophony.
Our latest installment of Quick Takes may be up a little bit later than usual, but bear with us - with so many surprise releases, from Radiohead to James Blake to Drake, we've been just as overwhelmed as all of you trying to keep up. But that doesn't stop us from acknowledging some records that we ….
On their second album, Toronto's Greys tap into an early 90s spirit and sound of artful thrash and angsty tension. Produced by Mike Rocha at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, Outer Heaven leaves behind the straight-ahead fury of the group's debut, instead opting for art noise and post-punk. The result is often delightfully overwhelming in its heaviness, with the calm moments in between making the ear-splitting loud parts disturbingly jarring.