Austin band Grivo work in musically darker, methodical corners. Tempos are a slow dirge and melodies are jagged melancholy mixed with an emotional turmoil being an adult in these times brings. Guitars chime and reverberate as bass and drums rumble along, while the vocals feel almost whispered in the mix.
Guitarist/singer Timothy Heck is our doomed romantic who narrates and guides us thru the musical world of Grivo. With his brother Matthew Heck on drums and Ricardo Tejeda on bass, the band are a tight, heavy three-piece that take their time with each track on their Holodeck Records debut called Elude. Nine tracks of slowcore grooves, post-punk anguish, and art rock splendor that recall the beautiful doom of the Cure’s Faith and Pornography, late-80s shoegaze and noise rock, as well as contemporaries like Nothing, Whirr, and even True Widow. Elude is a beautifully doomed debut, filled with all the self doubt and overcast headspaces we can all relate to nowadays.
Though the brothers Heck hail from Austin, their beginnings are in Michigan. Grivo’s DNA is not open landscapes, blistering sun, and big sky country. It’s the sometimes dark and often times beautiful “Great Lake State”. Much like growing up in the Pacific northwest, Michigan feels like its own little world. Even with beautiful coast lines and affluent lifestyles, Michigan can’t help but leave a certain darkness on longtime residents. Grivo show both the beauty and the darkness in their songs. It’s a dichotomy of sonic riches that works extremely well here.
“HDC” opens the album with a sonic likeness to In Utero in the guitar, but it quickly turns and twists into something completely its own. The slow, grinding groove becomes almost dream-like as the guitars drift upwards like smoke hanging in the air. There are moments where Grivo even resemble Deftones, that is once Chino Morena realized he could give in to his Robert Smith tendencies. “Render” is all early 80s alternative. Beautiful, crushing doom that seems to be Grivo’s calling card.
One of the absolute standouts here is “Opia”, a bruised and jagged piece of post-punk, art rock, and dreamgaze. Grivo seems to shine in the darker corners and “Opia” is one the darker tracks here with shards of distortion and feedback exploding in the mix midway thru as the band follows suit into a cacophony of noise. An absolutely blistering track.
Elsewhere, “C.A.” is gorgeous doom with Timothy Heck’s longing vocals carrying the track on a search for something he’ll seemingly never find. Title track “Elude” is all dissonance and angular guitar lines. This track is the sound of central Michigan; a cold rain, overcast skies, and a hazy drive along the Red Arrow Highway. “Room” is over seven minutes of chugging penance and dreamy disenchantment. It’s the titular period at the end of the sentence called Elude.
Elude is an album that makes a very clear statement. It’s dark, heavy, mournful alternative rock. It’s an album that puts a certain type of deeply personal frustration to music. A frustration with how we reach sometimes for things we think we need, but that need is not reciprocated. An anger emerges from that and we need to cultivate that anger or it consumes us. Grivo have cultivated their anger into a majestic rock record that uses guitar as its main weapon of choice. This three-piece from Austin by way of Michigan have made one of the better rock records of 2018.
Elude is the sweet spot between art, performance, and raw, primal rock.
8.4 out of 10
Elude will be available via Holodeck Records of November 16, 2018. Preorder the vinyl, cassette, or digital here.