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Grey Daturas - Dead in the Woods

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Artist: Grey Daturas

Album: Dead in the Woods

Label: Crucial Blast

Review date: Oct. 25, 2007


Grey Daturas - "She Was The Cutie Of Camp Cooke" (Dead In The Woods)


It's not clear whether "noise rock" has ever been a real genre, but for the sake of argument, let's roll with it. One might easily postulate that Skullflower are the ur-noise rockers, with Dead C somewhere alongside, though for the most part on the outer reaches of rock. While elements of noise rock have leaked into everything from metal to psych-rock, core highlights have been hard to come by, even as stalwarts tend to strip the rock from their sound.

Thankfully, Melbourne, Australia's Grey Daturas tossed their hat into the ring in 2004 and released Dead in the Woods, immediately stepping up to the first tier. Released by the band and out of print for several years, the album has now been remastered and reissued in a beautiful printed folder sleeve.

Right from the get-go, "She Was the Cutie of Camp Cooke" channels vintage Skullflower in stellar fashion, cathartic skewers of guitar over a slowly-plodding rhythm. "Golden Gate Blues" is an intensely heavy piece that's closer to metal riffs at half-speed, devolving into a chugging, feedback-laden stop-start that then fades into buzzing, distorted shards of sound. Other songs veer from hypnotic sludge-core to massive walls of guitar crunch, filled with ringing distorted tones, oceanic riffs and slowly-hammered rhythms. Between the riffage lie shorter, more abstract pieces, flitting past with bursts of noise and crackling, humming atmospherics.

Of particular note, "A Japanese Romance" is a nice change of pace, a chilly atmosphere of gentle clanks and strums that are both pretty and threatening at once. It grows over its eight minutes into a dense windstorm of buzzing guitars and crashing drums. At 11 minutes, "Repeat Until False" simmers slowly until about halfway through, when the momentum reaches critical mass and the song develops into a steamroller of chiming distortion and pounding drums before dissolving into a cathartic sprawl of noise.

The album's final one-two punch offers first "Fault of Domestication," eight minutes of droney, stretched-out oceanic riffs, a slow-pulsing nod-out of glacial fuzz that evolves into a wind tunnel of mind-flaying distortion. Then the album concludes with "The Hanging Man is no Peacock," a sparse environment of clatter and crash, a bit of an anticlimax after the previous track. It makes for a slow, calm end to the album, but doesn't feel like the proper final impression.

Dead in the Woods is, at 68 minutes, somewhat long, and the brief interlude-type tracks could have been eliminated without noticing the loss. But the meatier songs are very strong exemplars of the limits to which rock music can be stretched in this direction, fantastically corrosive sounds that embody the best of cathartic noise rock.

By Mason Jones

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