Friday 17 February 2023



When stoner/prog/alt-rock combo Grandma's Ashes, Myriam (guitar/vocals); Eva (bass/vocals) and Edith (drums/vocals), burst on to the scene with their debut release "The Fates" it was clearly obvious that this Paris based trio knew their way around a good groove but what was also obvious was their understanding of how to weave into that groove elements of light and shade. The band latest album "This Too Shall Pass" (Nice Prod) follows much the same path as it's predecessor but those elements of light and shade that made "The Fates" such a joy to listen to have been enhanced with a little magic fairy dust, where the light gleamed on "The Fates" here it sparkles and shines, where the shade was previously grey and a little murky here it is pitch black and deliciously gnarly. 

 Things begin quite unexpectedly with "Intro - À mon Seul Désir" an A cappella style three part harmony which has a an almost medieval feel, it is a song that is both touching and beautiful and  frames the the bands individual voices perfectly. Things take a turn for the heavy with next track "Cold Touch", not brutal heavy but more of a fractured alternative heavy, with sharded guitar textures, deep booming bass and thundering percussion holding sway over vocals that alternate between soaring ethereal harmonies and serenely semi crooned lead. Those with a discerning ear will also detect an air of progressive rock complexity to the proceedings here, an air that makes its presence felt throughout the remainder of the album. Next up is "Aside" an absolute peach of a song that soothes and savages in equal measure, a song that is one minute smacking you around the head with its raucous toned riffs and the next is caressing you with its lilting vocal tones, for those who love a comparison then this is a song very much in Rosy Finch territory. "Borderline" introduces fleeting glimpses of fey folkiness into the equation but being a band intent on flexing their newly discovered prog muscles it is not long before things start to get a little convoluted and intense with the band throwing everything from angular funkiness to doomic dankness into the mix, those heavenly voices weaving in and out of each other the songs only constant. Up next is "Glow" the first of the albums two short instrumental "interludes", this one boasting a liquid bass motif accompanied by tribalistic flavoured drumming and spacious guitar textures, it is brief but very effective. It's back to the angular funkiness for "Spring Harvest" a song that it could be argued is the bands most radio friendly to date, that is if you expect to hear fractured chord progressions and complex rhythmic patterns emanating from your humble transmitter. The following song, "Cruel Nature", is an off kilter torch like affair that has touches of fusion jazziness in its makeup which conveniently leads into the jazzy saxophone heavy second "interlude" "Melt". "La Ronce", "Caffeine", "Cassandra" and "Lost at Sea" follow before the band sign out with a reprisal of the excellent "Aside", all have their own individual merits and charms but out of that bunch it is probably "Cassandra" that takes the biscuit, it is a song that perfectly encapsulates the way Grandma's Ashes are able to bring together the complexities of progressive rock with the melodies of popular music and create something that will appeal to fans of both while at the same time still managing to grab the attention of the doomers and the stoners.

As good as Grandma's Ashes first release was there was still, in our opinion, an ingredient missing from their sound, an ingredient we couldn't quite put our finger on but felt the lack of could hinder the bands progress forward. Thankfully that ingredient has been found and utilised to great effect on "This Too Shall Pass". What exactly that missing ingredient was remains somewhat of a mystery but there is a majesty and magnificence to the bands latest release that wasn't quite as prominent on "The Fates" as it could have been. Let's however not get bogged down with trying to discover what this previously missing element actually was, let us instead rejoice that whatever it was that was missing has now been found and in turn has taken Grandma's Ashes music to whole other level of  excellence.
Check 'em out .... 

© 2023 Frazer Jones

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