GRUEL – S/T (CD At War With False Noise)
Metal: the natural habitat of many a lower lifeform with frustrations and grievances it feels compelled to shout about over guitars. It, in just about all of its guises, is a genre that has always left me cold not only for its now being so threadbare a (security) blanket to cling on to when one doubtlessly believes there is nowhere else to turn to when feeling ‘misunderstood’ but also, despite the many attempts to break the mould, for being so downright predictable and clichéd. During the past two decades especially there have been many attempts to reinvent it by those operating within and, indeed, during more recent times even those chin-scratchers dedicated to, uh, ‘serious music’ have begun barking on about how ‘avant-garde’, ‘experimental’ or valid as an art-form certain areas of the genre are, although it’s doubtful any one of them has ever once entered a moshpit or banged their heads next to a speaker stack as their leathers drip with beer and sweat. Or, let’s be brutally honest, even really listens to such music in the first place in between their bouts of Editions Mego and Jim O’Rourke records.
Anyway, it is from this position that I find myself faced with this CD reissue of Gruel’s self-released double-LP, which, aside from a now impossible to find CDR also self-released in 2008, represents the group’s only foray into the drowned world of recorded music thus far. On it are four lengthy songs that generally build up (and sometimes back down again) from noodling improv jazz stabs, electronic whirring, subtle psychedelic drones and so on into gravel-throat-driven doom metal, where all the chest-beating riffage and muscle-flexing is slowed down in an attempt to look slightly cleverer than it really is.
It’s hard to fathom whether, however, the fact that each song lacks a title is either an attempt to create a little more depth or a reflection on Gruel simply lacking the imagination to invent any in the first place.
Regardless, I think having a bowl of gruel would be preferable to hearing anything else by this waste of an hour of my precious life. RJ