North - The Great Silence (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Great Silence (2012)

Cavity Records

Hailing from Arizona, North is a difficult band to describe (and search for on Google). They're definitely a metal band. No question. But the subgenres the band plays with alternate from song to song, or even minute to minute. At times toying with sludge metal, black metal, technical hardcore and even post-rock, the group's latest effort, The Great Silence, alternates between eerie ambiance and bone-crushing mayhem.

What keeps the record cohesive and surprisingly filler-free is the way North draws in like-minded styles. These eight songs never lose their crunch, but they do find ways to explore space all the same, even on the world music-tinged "Origins." While the band probably best fits under the sludge metal tag, this record is a sort of Rosetta Stone for metal (not to be confused with Rosetta, who are also awesome). The Great Silence bridges so many gaps at once it's ridiculous.

That all being said, Kyle Hardy's vocals could prove to be a dealbreaker. They definitely define and complete the band's sound, but the guy sometimes sounds like Cookie Monster getting blown by Tom Waits. He don't sing too pretty. Plus, compared to all the subgenre-hopping the rest of North does, Hardy pretty much has just one singing style: growling grumble. He plows through all the musical textures with the same rumble throughout.

Of course, complaining about metal vocals is for non-believers anyway. Hardy's singing style may be an acquired taste, but his gruff delivery also completes North's assault. As ethereal as the music can get at times, it's still very much designed to crush skulls. That, thankfully, is something The Great Silence accomplishes quite well.