The Smashing Skull Sessions

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Gairo - HER

"It’s all meticulously timed and cleverly arranged in order to bring those gnarly, gravel -choked vocals to the forefront. What follows the vocals could be best described as a jamming session, where the drums lead and everyone follows in a seismic wave of "post-metal" power and passion"

One of the most experimental albums in the "instrumental/post-rock" genres of recent years for me was Lazybone Flame Kids’ 2019 album Beyond. The Italian five-piece really put their own stamp on the post music scene with that album, mainly due to the fact that it was bursting with new ideas and exploding with experimentation. Well, there must be something in the waters that surround Italy and its islands because the Sardinian six-piece Gairo have released their second album, HER and that too has soaked up all that experimentation and leftfield maelstrom that the salt-soaked waves of The Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean and Balearic Seas have washed ashore.

The first thing to grab you on the album HER, is the artwork, and the collaboration with Kismet Hubble and Blood Valkyrie. It’s striking and thought-provoking imagery hits hard right from the off with Its stark use of the human form and a battle-weary woman standing motionless before you. And it’s this picture that paints the narrative for the opening track, and title track, Her. Deep, dark acoustic strings play an intro that’s simmering and bubbling away in a cauldron of forbidding angst. Percussions roll gently over it, before those deep unfathomed vocals ooze along the floor like a lingering, subterranean spill. The track does pick itself up and patiently builds up into a heavy and harmonic rhythm section that gradually climbs and climbs until it sits high above that sea of inertia. The music continues to expand and fill space, as the pace continues to grow ever so slowly, pounding and laying siege, layer after layer, right the end of the track.

Koobi For a is a strange and experimental piece of music, that has this white noised backing track wisping and spitting over it and stays right to the end. Meanwhile, acoustic guitars play out a scene that could be take straight from an old western, just as the sun is reaching its peak in the sky, and the barren and parched sands below crave moisture and shelter. This is my interpretation of the music granted! and yours may be very different, but whatever picture it conjures up, Its thought provoking and somewhat detached.

It’s a very different beast from the following track 1808, which has that Russian Circles chug, set deep into its "post-metal" steeliness. It showcases Gairo’s ability the muddy things up, to distort and play with some guitar pedals! Even though it’s a simple riff, it exudes ferocity and harmony in equal measure. What follows that are the tribal drums of Apogee, which has this almost grand cinematic opening that eventually unleashes more of those gripping, downtrodden riffs and heavily soaked melodies. An intense bass line, rattled in tambourines, create more theatre and drama to the track before building to that finale that doesn’t disappoint.

One of the highlights of the album has to be Like An Elephant In A Sandstorm, and before I delve deeper into it, you need to know that there is a stunning video made for this track that has to be watched. That alone will explain this track better than I ever will, but it won’t stop me from trying! Open acoustic chords reverb ever so gently before a vocal delivery that drinks from the well of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen utters the words “that’s how it works If you’re able to get through the routine maybe you find….. but I aways wake up feeling like I don’t even know myself”. It gives the track so much character and identity, it’s a stroke of genius. Dirty, distorted guitars begin to plough through the riffs as the drums slap and pound. It’s all meticulously timed and cleverly arranged in order to bring those gnarly, gravel -choked vocals to the forefront. What follows the vocals could be best described as a jamming session, where the drums lead and everyone follows in a seismic wave of "post-metal" power and passion. A glorious track that just keeps on getting better with each listen, and definitely one of the standout tracks of the year so far for me.

The album closes with the track Summer, and it needs to be something calming and chilled out after the firepower and potency that went before it. Neolithic inspired acoustic guitars strum with the warming tones of dual vocals, delivered both off-time and emotive. As the track slowly emerges from itself, the energy builds and lights a fire within the belly of the beast. Tribal drums and airborne guitars are released creating a monsoon of melody and emotion, that washes over every chord that has gone before it. It’s a fitting end to an album that captures the imagination and brings you on a journey of sights and sounds you wouldn’t normally hear within the "post-metal" genre.

I predict big things for Gairo within this scene of ours, and if I’m wrong then it will be a travesty! HER has something unique about, something that allows it to stand out, without being isolated. With a release date of 21-03-2022, get over to their Bandcamp page and sample the fruits of their labour, and of course, pr- order this brilliant release.