Tim Yatras has been high on my list of favorite musicians for a number of years. One of the most prolific heavy musicians in Australia, his insatiable work ethic has seen him acting as a key member in over a dozen bands in just the past few years. Not least of those projects was atmospheric black metal duo Austere, so it was a huge disappointment to hear of their dissolution shortly after the 2009 masterpiece To Lay Like Old Ashes. But shortly after Tim announced Germ, his first completely solo venture. Germ’s debut, Wish, was easily one of the most unique 2012 releases in the realm of metal. It sprayed electronic, pop and rock elements all over his unique depressive black metal canvas into something unlike anything I’ve heard before. Now, just a year and a half later, we’re given another Germ album that tinkers with the original formula and presents a more focused effort that’s erupting with genre-bending creativity.
After opening with the ever-expected ambient intro, Grief bursts forth with the incredible “Butterfly,” a shoegaze metal anthem that fuses infectious melodies with massive guitars. The lovely voice of Amesoeurs’ Audrey Sylvain dances deftly before giving way to the main man’s tortured howls. These may take some getting used to for those not familiar and their juxtaposition with the upbeat music is jarring to be sure, but that just adds to Grief’s unique charm. It’s at once hopeful and utterly depressing, laying the world bare while trying to make something out of devastating despair.
It quickly becomes clear Tim has re-invented his project once again. Although it has much in common with the debut it feels more focused, toning down the experimental nature and making something more refined. The electronic elements still feature heavily but they’re no longer a driving force in the songs. On most of the tracks the relaxed synths give way to the huge wall of guitars and act as a thickening agent rather than primary ingredient. Over an hour passes with no two songs sounding alike, each with its own bleak personality fitting for a Tim Yatras release. Both his clean and haunting vocals are few and far between, which gives more room to his spacey instrumental arrangements and lets you get lost in his melancholy dream world.
Grief is a cross-sectional snapshot of a multi-talented artist’s brain. With so many styles of music and differing moods in and between songs it’s a difficult beast to grasp. But the parts that shine are undeniably impressive and prove that the Tim Yatras approach to metal is one of the most creative in the world. It may not be for everyone, but the amount of risks and new ideas brought forth is staggering; a true testament to a peerless mastermind.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]