Greg Puciato – Mirrorcell (Album Review)

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The mirror reflects a broader horizon.

It could be said that every artist lives within his or her own world, and in the particular case of former The Dillinger Escape Plan impresario Greg Puciato’s burgeoning career following the demise of said band, it’s a realm that is expanding by leaps and bounds. It goes without saying that every musician matures with time, but while this usually implies a stripping away of the superfluous in favor of a more streamlined and focused product, in the case of this multi-instrumentalist and versatile vocalist it also brings something along the lines of total reinvention. To be clear, there is a fairly strong remnant of Puciato’s metalcore past and all the raging aggression that goes with it to be found along the fringes of his most recent creations, but a greater sense of nuance and eclecticism has come into view of late. Indeed, one casual perusal of “Mirrorcell,” the second and most recent of his solo LPs reveals a gallery of seemingly disparate influences that have been brought into a sense of synchronicity that listens like one unified project despite often shifting genres with each sonic entry.

Naturally it is extremely rare for any solo project to result from the efforts of one man wielding all the instruments and the engineer’s chair simultaneously, and Greg himself would be the first to laud the efforts of those who joined him in this endeavor. Though he is responsible for all the guitar and bass work rounding out these songs, drum and percussion duties would fall to Chris Hornbrook of Poison The Well, Dhani Harrison and Big Black Delta fame, resulting in a precision-based assortment of thunderous and well-placed grooves that bring greater impact and depth to an already massive and elaborate template. Along for the journey in a somewhat more limited capacity is Code Orange’s own Reba Meyers, whom provides an impassioned and gritty vocal foil to Puciato on one of the more melodically consonant and deliberately hook-driven anthems “Lowered”, and was also instrumental in helping shape the vocal arrangement of the song in its final writing stages.

Though the recording artists in congress on this album amount to a de facto trio, one could argue that a fourth contributor emerges in Alice In Chains guitarist and vocalist Jerry Cantrell, whom while not appearing on the album is cited by Greg as the chief inspiration for its contents. In fact, not only does the sludgy riff work that adorns dank and raucous odes like “Reality Spiral” and “No More Lives To Go” bear an uncanny resemblance to the darkest crevices of said band’s golden era from 1990-1997, but his bellowing highs and tempered mid-ranged vocalizations bear passing resemblances to that of Cantrell and Staley and the wailing bluesy lead guitar work that adorns the album could almost rival the chops of the former. Even when the tone of things leaves the bounds of the morose for something more gently melancholy and woeful as on “Rainbows Underground”, the jagged edge and idiomatic stylings of said icon of the 90s Seattle scene hangs over the guitar work and Puciato’s snarling and crooning dual vocal personas.

While the specter of Alice In Chains’ influence hangs over much of what occupies “Mirrorcell,” there are some fairly blatant stylistic deviations of note. “I, Eclipse” does retain a similarly dank and forbidding tone to the previous mentioned sludgy bangers, largely in the prominent bass work that drones through the entirety of what is otherwise a mostly spacey, atmospheric auditory excursion with a rather involved and riveting vocal display draped over it. The previously noted “Lowered” presents another interesting stylistic shift into something of a Gothic-tinged variation on the grunge coin, almost sounding like what one of the more technically proficient adherents of the Seattle scene would in covering a song by The Cure. Then there is the 80s new wave twist in “We” that sees the album’s sonic paradigm all but completely abandon the heavier rock realm for something more suited to Depeche Mode. Pile on top an extended dreary jam session to close the circle in “All Waves To Nothing”, and what is left is an album that is both ambitious and original enough to inspire a legion of future imitators.

This album is about as far of a cry from the noodling atonality and chaotic streams of rhythmic ambiguity that typified the high period of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and those with a background more immersed in the 2000s metalcore world should approach this with an expectation of something far less explosive in character, but no less wanting in originality. It might prove a bit difficult for those seeking a more predictable and tradition-based mode of heavy rock to approach, but the balance of rawness and infectious hooks results in an album that should be highly accessible for anyone who doesn’t mind a sizable number of twists to go with their brooding alternative brand of rock. It’s tough to say where the road will lead next, as Greg is at least as enigmatic as his musical output, but it’s a safe bet that the nine songs adorning this LP will keep everyone occupied for the next couple years when that question will likely be answered.

Released By: Federal Prisoner Records
Release Date: July 1th, 2022
Genre: Alt-Rock / Post Grunge

“Mirrocell” track-list:

  1.  In This Hell You Find Yourself 1:26
  2. Reality Spiral 3:46
  3. No More Lives to Go 3:35
  4. Never Wanted That 5:29
  5. Lowered 4:11
  6. We 5:50
  7. I, Eclipse 5:18
  8. Rainbows Underground 5:39
  9. All Waves to Nothing 8:45

Musicians:

  • All instruments (except drums) and vocals written and performed by Greg Puciato
  • Drums by Chris Hornbrook
  • Additional vocals on “Lowered” by Reba Meyers

Order “Mirrocell” HERE.

8.4 Great

Former front man of The Dillinger Escape Plan turned solo artist Greg Puciato delivers a broad, diverse and transcendent blend of stylistic elements into another brilliant auditory collage of serenity and rage on his latest studio excursion

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8
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