Greber – Fright Without Review

A drum kit, a bass guitar, two throats, and an unflinching look at life. Such components make up Greber, the unapologetically unhinged grind/sludge two-piece responsible for Fright Without. In their near-15 years of existence, the pair have constructed a fair number of audial slaps in the face, both alone and in numerous splits with the likes of Minors and Anthesis. With one half (Steve Vargas) coming from sludge act The Great Sabatini, and the other (Marc Bourgon) from grind group Fuck The Facts, Greber have always blended these two unfriendly styles. On Fright Without, however, the concoction is perhaps the darkest, and most volatile so far. Indeed the band explicitly states that it involved “far fewer revisions” than prior record Cemetery Preston. The result? A thrashing, crashing roller-coaster ride of rage and absurdist abandon that is often overwhelming, but consistently enjoyable.

Greber deftly combine the rawness of grindcore with the heft of sludge, creating music that is both heavy as fuck, and pleasantly unpredictable. The two reinforce one another, as manic rhythms collapse, with drawn-out screeches of feedback, into agonized crawling. Fright Without is not a cliché of incomprehensible noise, but a fluidly twisting soundscape whose every mad flail is entirely audible. At one end of the spectrum, you might find off-kilter tempos suddenly and repeatedly intersected by blastbeats (“Tree Carving”) or a screaming amp (“Aging Debt”). At the other, powerviolence falls away to leave the smoky atmosphere of reverberating bass plucking (“Into Silence”) or a warm-sounding hypnotic groove (“Dark Corners”). Whether it’s full-body thrashing (“Form”) or lemon-faced headbanging (“Rats of Subversion,” “Nosebleed”), the music’s twitchy, unstable energy is infectious, demanding physically-expressed appreciation.

Fright Without is thus defined by its variety, cloaked in a deceptively monist package. That such a panoply of moods comes from a single bass guitar (with the exception of “Larkinitis”‘ guest feature) just makes it even cooler, and it exemplifies exceptional skill. Despite its volatility that sometimes extends to near-rabid mania (“Fabricated Purpose,” “Bushcord of Entrails”), the music is not random, and tracks retain cohesion. This is one whole. One notable way Greber achieve this is through the motif of previously-alluded-to feedback-driven noise. It provides passage between acts, gives riffs and chugs a distinctive edge, and creeps in from the background at the bookends of songs. In many ways it becomes the versatile bridge between the overtly aggressive grind and the menacing sludge. It provides stabbing jabs of anxiety for the one (“Aging Debt,” “Nosebleed”) and thousand-ton weight for the other (“Rats of Subversion”). But it’s as a precursor to intimidating atmosphere that it surprises, and pleases, the most. Insidious noise darkens the brooding of “Into Silence” and deepens the moody ambience of “Larkinitis.” Even as the latter track makes a foray into clean vocals, this background gives it an unsettling mood.

One can additionally respect Greber for knowing when enough is enough, for music this intense is best ingested in relatively small portions. At less than half an hour, the whole experience is over before you know it, but, as I’ve intimated, the pair manage to pack a great deal into that time. Their propensity for smoothly joining the densely atmospheric with skull-smashingly heavy, and the jagged grind with chunky sludge is their distinctive edge, and it makes for easier digestion. This does cash out in some unevenness between tracks, as they achieve this to different degrees, in different ways. “Bushcord of Entrails,” for example pales a little in comparison to its neighbors, and you might wish vainly for more in the vein of the ominous percussive-tap-and-rumbling-bass build in “Rats of Subversion.” Complaining that parts of the record are ‘too good’ is not much of a criticism. I don’t really have any others though, except to say that your mileage may vary on the record’s relentless chop-and-change of pace and style. I would say it’s part of the charm.

If you know me, you know that I wouldn’t normally be one for grindcore, or powerviolence. Consider me converted, and we have Greber to thank. Fright Without further asserts them as a unique and essential player in the subgenre. Their deranged, yet intelligent approach has culminated in something truly affecting, and pretty damn awesome.


Rating: Very Good
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: US: Hibernation Release Records | EU: 7 Degrees Records / Fresh Outbreak Records | CA: Ancient Temple Records / Nofuneral Records
Website: greber.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/grebermetal
Releases Worldwide: September 9th, 2022

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