August 09, 2011 - Tragic Hero
With each successive release, Phoenix’s Greeley Estates have honed their anger and chops, and delivered a consistently harder, more aggressive sound. The Death Of Greeley Estate continues this tradition. While the squalling attack of 2008’s Go West Young Man, Let The Evil Go East and 2010’s No Rain, No Rainbow bore strong resemblances to fellow Arizonans the Bled, this time out they have blended this approach with a more metallic approach, embracing juddering riffs and rhythms that recall early Architects UK or the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. This is damn effective on “The Medic,” “The Last Dance” and “Leave The Light On,” which dole out bludgeon with ruthless precision and sinister, Underoath-esque melodies. In fact when they’re not solely intent on destroying everything, Greeley Estates are often downright eerie, with unsettling tones creeping through the music and the vocal melodies. “Thousand Burning Forests” is particularly unnerving, and in this instance the band demonstrate good judgment in knowing when to rein matters in rather than just relentlessly hammering the listener senseless for the sake of it.
While there are a handful of standout songs, the majority of these appear on the first half of the album—Greeley Estates are unable sustain either the quality or the momentum throughout the 15-track effort. “Tonight,” “The Postman” and “Mouth To Mouth” come and go with little to really distinguish them; in fact, the clean vocals of Ryan Zimmerman—which sound like the genetically spliced love child of the Used’s Bert McCracken, Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain and the Bled’s James Muñoz—are increasingly grating (though his formidable scream is effective throughout). The band do go out on a high note, however, with the bitterly poignant and understated “December.” It’s a heartfelt but chilling climax to the album, and hints that were the band to exercise a little more quality control, they could have really delivered something special. But for now, liberal use of the “skip” button will have to suffice.