Sometimes direct foreshadowing isn’t really the end, at least not in the case with Greeley Estates. Their last full-length record, aptly titled The Death of Greeley Estates, wasn’t supposed to be taken literally – but it was by many people. The misguided direction and lackluster production quality left lots to be desired, but fear not friends; Greeley Estates are back and they’re putting their steel-toed boots down.
This latest effort, a revival of sorts called The Narrow Road, is the first of two split concept EPs to be released by the band with an intrinsic bind between them. The other, being Devil Son, will be released next year. If their last record left you wanting more beefy and smokey heaviness, you’re in for a real treat. This is probably their heaviest offering to date. We’re talking (further) down-tuned guitars, apocalyptic melodies, breakdowns, and (obviously) Ryan Zimmerman’s shriveled yelp that cuts like a buzz-saw through the mix. The songwriting this time around has taken a further emphasis on the in-your-face attitude that made Go West, Young Man such a success.
Starting on the title track “The Narrow Road,” after some sort of low melodic hum a progressively faster and faster drum beat carries the song into a galloping train ride from Hell, led by Zimmerman on the whips and reins with a ridiculously high shriek. It’s hard to imagine anything different on their agenda here, and this charismatic start is what they’re known for. You end up on the same note you pretty much started on with this track. Realistically, I think with this EP, Greeley really just said “Let’s just go as heavy as we can,” and in doing so they blended these elements that feel reminiscent of newer-age Slipknot at times. This band is just spitting razors, like in the form of throat-cutter “Lot Lizards” and the utterly relentless “Die.” You’re just getting a real thrashing.
Greeley really only take one real reprieve on the record, and that’s “Lennox House,” though I use that word rather mildly. The chorus is derived from that eerie, washed out sound found on many Deftones records, but does not feel ripped off in the slightest. Regardless, it rules and it pummels. “Watch It Burn” and “Head Underwater” completely tear up shards of metal like paper, and they’re sure to be live staples at this point. What really caught me, though, is the sense of dissonance in each track. It sounds as if a lot of them had an ambient mic just set up in some creepy well somewhere in the middle of Nebraska while it’s raining to add dimension. The bomb squad lets all hell out on “Doomsday” though, the closing track with a completely fitting title. This song is essentially one long face-crusher, but given the blast-beat style of death metal menagerie to its introduction, and the absolute destroyer of a breakdown to end the record, it’s really just about Greeley letting off some steam and being completely forward with their newfound sense of dastardliness.
So given that you’ve listened to this record (and you’re now a few decibels more deaf), what’s next? What I’m hoping for is that because this record was so incredibly heavy, the experimental nature of Greeley that we all know and love will show up on the earlier mentioned Devil Son. If so, it would offer a great contrast to what we’ve already got from them: a cleanly executed metal EP that leaves the listener feeling like they just heard the soundtrack to the Earth’s doomsday, and because that Mayan date is supposedly a week away, who knows; maybe Greeley’s record will be the soundtrack to our inevitable demise.