June 29th, 2018
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, emo rock band The Grievance Club have gone from strength to strength since their formation in 2012. Having carved out a solid following from frequent live shows and steadily-released studio material, the band headed into the studio last fall with the aim of making their third EP a real statement. The resulting product, ‘HIVE’, provides a reflective account on the all-too-present struggle of being unable to solve the problems of your friends and family; roaring guitars, heartfelt vocals and ample rhythmic variation hammer the concept home and prove the band are certainly one to watch within the current unsigned emo scene.
Distorted bass and warping guitar feedback ambiguously open the EP, before launching into the main body of ‘Spill’. The instrumentation is undoubtedly loyal to the emo rock genre, with rip-roaring power chords being interspersed by rumbling bass and ambient clean guitar lines. This forms a solid foundation for what is undoubtedly the band’s greatest selling point; the vocals. The band keep us right on our toes throughout the entire track, from the call-and-response nature of the verses to the ambient chants in the breakdown. With such a wide variety in their vocal approach, my attention immediately turns to how it could work in a live setting. Whilst bassist Kevin Cappy and guitarist Harrison Mills currently handle vocal duties live, I’d thoroughly encourage guitarist Steve Perrino or even drummer Dan Roberts to consider contributing vocally; the band’s larger-than-life vocal sections are undoubtedly a trademark of theirs and would certainly benefit from having all hands on deck where possible. The lyrical style is also of particular praise, placing strong emphasis on alliteration. Lines such as ‘Man behind the masquerade refuses to uphold/Capsules that encapsulate the things I’ll never know’ take advantage of the literary feature to make the lines irresistibly catchy and pleasant to listen to, a trait I’d most certainly suggest the band to place at the forefront of their marketing.
The EP shows no signs of slowing down as we head into ‘Carbon’ at breakneck speed. Particular praise goes to Roberts on this track, who proves himself as a crucial asset to the quintet. It’s clear he’s kept the track’s momentum at the forefront of his mind when writing his drum part, which is jam-packed with an array of innovative tom and snare fills. There’s also some fantastic off-time drumming in the verses, which adds real variety to the arrangement. Whilst this is most certainly attention-grabbing and impressive, Roberts ensures to maintain his role as the prime infrastructure for an array of rhythmically-complex twists and turns. The track’s punchline of ‘I don’t know anything about anything’ is by far the catchiest of the entire EP; certainly one that’ll get stuck in the listener’s head for days on end. Furthermore, it’s a sentence that not only ties in well with the EP’s overall concept, but also one that’s undoubtedly relatable to almost any listener.
‘Sculpture’ features an impressive range of guitar tones, which are all particularly well chosen. The picked clean verses are very full-bodied, forming a strong foundation for the serene harmony work in vocals. The beefy, moderately distorted power chords in the chorus provide good contrast and support the screamed sections effectively. At this point, my attention turns to the EP’s production, which is overall very good. All instruments are well recorded and it’s clear the band have taken adequate time to obtain the best tones and takes possible. Perrino’s mixing work is also very good, with all levels, effects and frequencies being well-balanced and effective. The EP is also very well presented as a complete body of work; each track effortlessly flows into the next and every title is limited to one word, which ties the EP together nicely. This is a theme I’d definitely suggest the band pick up and run with on future projects as it very much sets them apart from other acts.
The EP rounds off with what initially appears to be a more laid-back track, ‘Garden’; funeral-march snare drum and ambient guitar tracks support synth drones and tenderly-delivered vocals. However, in true Grievance Club style, the track launches into an intense off-time coda section to successfully bring the lyrical content of the EP full circle. ‘Spell it out for me/Spill onto me’ expertly relays back to the opening track and confidently summarises the EP’s thematic material, solidifying the four songs as a comprehensive body of work.
Overall, ‘HIVE’ effectively showcases a group of talented and ambitious musicians with a well-established sonic identity and phenomenal attention to detail. They definitely know their signature traits and provide an interesting take on the emo rock genre. The production is brilliant throughout and the band go to show that hard work and consistency goes an incredibly long way. Thoroughly recommended for any fans of emo, rock, pop punk or alternative.