Giant Squid's 'Minoans' Album: Our Review

There's an undercurrent of unintentional dark humor to Giant Squid's Minoans, a concept album about the ill-fated Bronze Age civilization of the same name who were mysteriously wiped off the map somewhere around 1450 BC.

Giant Squid, like the Minoans, were - until recently - victims of history: either being errantly dismissed as derivative for having an aquatic-themed name when aquatic themes were all the rage in their particular sub-genre of metal, or being errantly dismissed because frontman Aaron John Gregory's voice shares slight characteristics with that of Serj Tankien's of System of a Down, which apparently was uncomfortable for the more hipsterish inclined fan of post-metal.??

Of course, Giant Squid sound nothing like System of a Down and never have. Furthermore, Giant Squid avoids most of the trappings of the "Neur-Isis" sound: if you put all those derivative post-metal albums along with Giant Squid's in the same iPod shuffle and did a blind-listen test, it wouldn't be hard to pick Giant Squid out of the bunch, and not only because of Gregory's voice.

Giant Squid was never into playing really heavy riffs with a delay pedal and calling it a day.

Most of the time, they share more sonic qualities with their out-of-left-field and hard-to-classify label mates on former label, The End Records, than they do with bands on their current label, Translation Lost.

??It's really hard to identify anything wrong with Giant Squid's sound prior to this release, but for some reason, Minoans sounds better than anything they've done before. Although it's fairly senseless to address the decline of the album as a format in the digital age, it should be known that Minoans accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of daring you to not listen to it all the way through.

It also defies the typical album characteristic of blowing its load in the first couple of songs.

Giant Squid is one of the few post metal bands that truly understand that using the "post" template is more than just loud/quiet, loud/quiet, and so on and so forth. ??

Not a moment is wasted on Minoans' eight tracks. "Thera" is a perfectly good example of a non-cliched post-metal arc that Giant Squid embrace.

Towards the song's midway point, it slowly strips its instrumentation away from Gregory's voice and Jackie Perez Gratz's cello.

Gregory almost whispers "Millennia have passed/and we still tread over her ash" and then the song explodes into what sounds like a Hans Zimmer-aided funeral dirge before drummer Zack Farrell caps off the whole thing with triumphant double bass roll that can only come from a drummer that isn't overly reliant on double bass.

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"Sixty Foot Waves," with its jingly percussive feel, is certainly the sexiest post-metal song your reviewer has ever heard.

Additional highlight "Mycenaeans" is another awesome exercise in tension and calls to mind the epic title track of Giant Squid's debut album, Metridium Fields, albeit much-abbreviated, and Mediterranean-tinged closer "Phaistos Disc" is an ear worm that will prove hard to shake.

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With Minoans, Giant Squid have soared past their contemporaries and released an album that's truly an experience rather than a collection of songs. This is a band you can't afford to write off.

Let's just hope the release of Minoans finally buries those stupid System of a Down references once and for all. ?