Greye Releases “VII” 

Anyone who dismisses Greye as a passe dad-rock act isn’t listening. The Florida-based outfit has long since established a well-deserved reputation as an instrumental powerhouse brimming with stellar songwriting. The accompanying musicianship driving the songs on their latest foray VII reveals a unit that enjoys cohesion, chemistry, and crackling energy few modern rock bands share. The new songs show them as an outfit steeped in tradition, without question, but sharp with modern edginess to their music. They can and do draw blood. They deserve plaudits for continuing to bring a newcomer’s energy to their music balanced against veteran polish.

Both are in full evidence with the album’s first song. “Hold Your Own” introduces VII with a bold and vigorous onrush of guitar-driven energy. Hannah Summer’s singing has a raw, unbridled quality that seizes listeners with a single line and compels us to continue listening. They set the bar high with the opener but match, if not exceed it, with the next track “Famous Last Words”. This bruising track elicits one of Hannah Summer’s best career vocals; you can tell it comes from a very personal place. It is the emphatic, go-for-broke emotion she piles on behind the vocal setting it apart.

“Diamonds” benefits from a melodic main riff and a potent chorus. It soars even higher thanks to a strong lyric with several standout lines calling attention to themselves. The band has a penchant for exciting choruses, and each one included on VII has a transformative effect on the song. “Underdog” has the same strengths. Acoustic guitar bolsters the song’s tightly wound primary riff, and the chorus is a full-throated exclamation point that drives home its message with passion and craftsmanship.

“777” is one of the album’s most aggressive moments on a release not lacking such emotion. Breaking the song into passages defined by headlong riffing with percussive-driven portions focused on drums and Summer’s voice creates a bracing contrast. It sustains the whole song. Adding a discreet organ underlying the riff further bulks up an already muscular attack. Summer’s duet with Jason Michael Carroll on the song “Hurricane” seems like a no-brainer for a single. It is a nod to the band’s deep Southern influences while still packing enough broad-based appeal to reach outside that demographic.

The penultimate song “Down Not Out” hinges on its stop-start riff and an expansive chorus that delivers on its unbeaten spirit. Summer throws the entirety of herself behind this tune as well, it is close to her heart, and the chorus gives her a chance to shine. VII is a moment in the sun for Greye as a whole. They are writing and recording music that shows their experience without ever betraying the invigorating impulse that drove them to create from the first. They are firing on all cylinders and never sacrifice even a dollop of their vision. Songs such as the duet co-exist fine alongside the rockers, and help it add up to one of the most fevered rock releases in recent memory.

Chadwick Easton


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