June 9, 2023

Norway’s Grant The Sun have announced the release of their first full-length album Voyage on June 9th via Mas-Kina Records.

Having launched three EPs to date, all entirely instrumental, Voyage is the first ever release from the band to incorporate vocals – albeit pretty limited stuff, with guitarist Markus Lillehaug Johnsen handling all clean vocalizations while guitarist Martin Rygge (who also handles guitars in grindcore group Beaten To Death) providing the fiercer screams. It’s also the first release to be written with the bass lines fully in mind. Their previous effort Sylvain was pivotal to this change, when producer Danne Bergstrand and Meshuggah guitar extraordinaire Fredrik Thordendal thought the songs lacked some bass frequencies and Thordendal steeped in to play bass on the EP.

Line-Up:
Håvard Sveberg – Drums
Martin Rygge – Guitars
Markus Lillehaug Johnsen – Guitars

As a result, Voyage is probably their most complete achievement to date, looking to encompass a number of moods and sonic landscapes and at the same time avoiding easy categorization. The release is a powerful 39-minute slab of songs, mostly post-rock but touching on the realms of prog and metal, with some pounding and fierce polymetric metal, some sprawling and irreverent groove-laden riffs and a taste of captivating melodies.

The band reflected on direction of the new material “Every element of leads, layers, spoken words and vocals were added to enliven the voyage under water. The concept was the key element from writing to post-production.”

Someone else has commented that the album is “one part stoner metal album, one part weirdo progressive rock, and one part Tangerine Dream-like hallucination”!

And I have to agree, this is is a pretty succinct take on what is an intriguing blend of sometimes dreamy, always dramatic post rock. It’s quite enchanting in an edgy, unnerving way!

Blue Desert is not the most accessible start I’ve ever made into an album! It’s deliberately harsh, abrasive, discordant, threatening to start with, before an out-pouring of “smooth-synth-like sound” calms the nerves! Not sure quite what to make of these guys at this point….

Machina and Death is Real continue this pretty Heavy approach, doomy metal riffs dominating to start alongside Martin’s screamo vocals. But then it gets milder, melodic, swooping synths making this almost catchy post-rock at times, but odd bursts of strings, echoey notes haunting in the wings. Heaven only knows what these guys dream about at night!

Mariana is, at 6:40 minutes the longest track on the album and it uses that space to work through deeper slower time signatures. I’m fascinated by the tone the guitars achieve on this album, they’re always fuzzy, but melodic in a vibe that makes them sound like synths, a vibe that is accentuated by the note-cadence-progressions (sic) that fall from the frets. An extended instrumental but one that sucks you in entirely into its world – who is this person!

Vertigo starts with a spoken Spanish exhortation, sounds like a poem, before a genuinely sweeping sound envelops you in its swirls. The most accessible, almost soft song for the most part, I really like this! Hits Like a Wave follows, and yes it nicely creates the musical equivalent of sitting in the surf, the chords washing over one. Later on, there’s another brief semi-spoken section. Seadevil also gets introduced with more vocalisation, theres a theme going on here but to my untutored ear it sounds like Spanish again – and if this is Markus’ voice it’s a strangely androgenous style? The song fades to further incantations..

The band’s titular track closes the album, it comes in on a wave of frenetic energy, brief semi-screamo vocals – more like a series of shouts. The track serves as a microcosm for their signature style.

Grant the Sun look to take the listener on a sprawling journey of edgy melody and post-rock complexity on the album, and they’ve certainly succeeded in defying easy categorisation! My only problem with the album is perhaps a lack of light and shade – despite their prowess, without conventional vocals and hence “story-telling” there’s only so much variation a trio can inject into these sorts of post-rock compositions? – but I say that about moreorless all instrumental albums!

“Death is Real”