Germ- Grief (Suspicious Activities)

Another immersive effort from Tim Yatras

It would be very interesting to take a peek into the mind of Tim Yatras (AustereEx--Lord). If for nothing else, I'd like to see what kind of gears are ticking away in that noggin of his that cause him to write such out there material for his current pet project Germ.

Germ's second full length release, Grief, picks up largely where it's predecessor Wish left off. Not that that implies in any way what Germ does is stock or formulaic. If anything, Grief manages to pack even more into the band's sound, which was already full to near bursting point with disparate musical influences all cohering and playing off each other to create something truly different.

The album opens with a gorgeous swelling display of ambient noise before delving into lead single for the album, Butterfly. This song is a really good display of just what Germ is all about. A clean picked post-rock sounding riff mixed with highly distorted black metal-ish guitars that send the song wandering through several different states of childlike wonder. Germ's greatest strength is their ability to create absolutely dreamy atmospheres with their music, a listener can spend a good portion of this album feeling lighter than air. A big factor in this atmospheric strength lies in the use of keyboards which are heavily influenced by trance music and provide a solid foundation for the emotional breadth of the album, just look at the keyboard driven instrumental track An End for proof.

This is supplemented by further surprises from the musical influences goodie bag such as some lovely clean vocals sprinkled here and there and the occasional and surprisingly shreddy guitar solo that wouldn't look out of place on a Lord album. The album ends with the fantastic ambient track Ghost Tree part 3 which was originally part of a trilogy of ambient pieces the band released on Soundcloud for free earlier this year. The other two Ghost Trees are definitely worth your time if ambient music is your thing, so check them out too. 

The only real complaint I have is that I've never been a fan of Yatras' black metal "shrieks". To me, they've always sounded like something you'd hear one of the Monty Python lads screaming in one of their old cross-dressing sketches. That said, the shrieks do get less silly on repeated listens.

Love them or hate them, Germ represents the crux of originality in Australian music. Every self-respecting Aussie music fan needs to check them out at least once and Grief is as good a place to start as any.