Music is often an outlet for emotion. In my opinion, the best songs are written from a personal place, with a deep meaning to the writer, that you can feel when you hear it. When I listen to a song, I tend to feel a certain way each time I play through. For me, the emotion often lies in the lyrics. Words are a dead giveaway of the pain, the joy, the hope that an artist is feeling when they create a song. But when the vocals and lyrics are stripped away, music comes to life and truly has the ability to come to life.
I will admit, I have not spent a lot of time listening to instrumental music. When I first was approached with Girih’s debut album, Eigengrau (releasing November 16, 2018 via dunk! Records), I didn’t know what to expect. After listening to the album a few times, it was easy to see what all the fuss is about. Girih is a 3-piece, Boston-based, instrumental metal band. The debut 6-track album is absolutely captivating. Even without words to guide you, the album is easy to connect with and easily invokes emotion. The intro track “Haumea”, begins with a slow, melodic build that is peaceful and serene. The build comes to a heavy set of melodies, but the heavy nature of the song does not detract from the melodic feel of the song.
“Sinnesloschen” shows off the bands mastery of silence and musicianship. The heavier track allows the guitar to sing a faint melody over the drums and bass in an aggressive stop beat, that must be a breathtaking feat to witness live. “Eigengrau”, the album’s title track, does a great job of transitioning from melodic to heavy and back, leaving the listener wondering what direction they will head next. At times, this song reminds me of Brand New- while certainly not a metal band, I always felt like they used the guitar solos as a vocal line replacement to tell a story, and this track, set in a minor, gloomy key gave me that kind of feeling.
The album’s lead single “Vorer” has a very engaging, melodic feel that quietly builds up to a feverish and heavy ending. Girih utilizes harmonics on the guitar to act almost as pained screams that truly give off a unique vibe in one of the most musical displays on the album. “Chihiro”, though not as intense as “Vorer”, has much the same feel with the build to the end. However, this song has one of my favorite lead lines to close out the track.
The album is full of grit, musicianship, and emotion. Though the album is only 6 tracks long, it comes in around 35 minutes in length, which is plenty of substance! To get more insight into this emerging and talented unit, we reached out to the band to get their insight as to what went into Eigengrau.
ST: Congrats on the debut! The album is fantastic! What inspired you guys to take the instrumental approach to your music?
Alex: Thank you! Always grateful to hear when anyone likes what we made. We find that the instrumental soundscape lets you do more with your music. It always seems like when working with vocals, you think about accessibility; but instrumental music allows an artist to create art instead of a product.
ST: How do you pronounce Girih? And what does it mean?!
Jeremy: Girih a is form of Mid-eastern art that uses several tile shapes to create tessellations, formless and subject-less. Because the patterns within it evolve and have many layers, we felt it fit our sound. We pronounce it “Gear – E” but its whatever you want it to be. Instrumental music is subjective, so we want our name to follow suit.
ST: Have you always been an instrumental band?
Brian: Yeah, it was a core idea in forming the band. We are all experienced in different roles in more traditional bands, so this approach lets us stand as musicians
ST: When you write music, do you take a collaborative approach? Or does one of you take the lead?
Jeremy: Our writing style is very collaborative, with each of us injecting our own opinions and ideas into the whole of the song. If one of us has an idea for what someone else should be playing in a specific part, we always try it out and see what happens.
ST: It sounds like there is a lot of different influences and styles in your music. Who would you say your biggest influences are?
Alex: Thanks! We enjoy a lot of our contemporaries, I know a lot of what we pull from has vocals, but the short list includes Russian Circles, O’Brother, Caspian, Norma Jean, and Black Clouds
Jeremy: We listen to a ton of different genres and try to infuse that variety into how we write.
ST: What are you currently listening to when you’re on the road?
Alex: Friends like Arrowhead, Actor Observer, and Holy Fawn.
Brian: Night Verses, Bad Rabbits, Tides Of Man
Jeremy: A ton of Classical/Crossover/Broadway.
ST: Besides Boston, where is your favorite place to play? Are there cities you’ve had bad experiences in and try to avoid?
Alex: The drive to Vermont is always worth it.
Brian: One of my favorite places to play is Nashville. While we don’t try to avoid it, New York City is extremely difficult to maneuver a van and trailer.
ST: What is the most interesting thing that happened while recording Eigengrau?
Alex: My sister gave birth the day we walked into the studio, 2 months early. So that was a pretty insane way to start it
Brian: A few days into recording I burned my hand while cooking dinner for the boys. Despite having “blisters on me fingers” while tracking guitar, I made it work.
Jeremy: I was sick for pretty much the entirety of our recording session. Most of the time I spent tracking I was trying not to sneeze or cough and ruin a take.
ST: What is the current feeling of the band in the lead up to the release of Eigengrau? Is there going to be a tour to support the launch?
Alex: We are still overwhelmed by the response to the album; the last 2 years of work are finally coming together. We are certainly going to play out for the release, and we’re planning to get out early 2019 on some regional touring.
ST: If you were stuck on a desert island, with only a record player and ONE album, what are you listening to?
Alex: Primitives by Bayonne; always impressed by progressively deep layering
Brian: “Choir of the Mind” by Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton – it’s one of those albums that you keep finding new things with each listen.
Jeremy: Post Malone’s Beerbongs and Bentlys. I’m not usually a hip hop fan but I cannot stop listening to that album. It’s so good.
ST: What do Spinning Thoughts/Metal Thoughts listeners need to know about Girih?
Brian: We want to bring albums, and music, back to a time when they were fun and exciting to open and explore. We worked hard with both of our labels, A Thousand Arms and dunk!records, to ensure that our vinyl release was unique and a memorable experience for the listener.