With the release of their first full-length album, Gyre emerge in the arena of progressive stoner metal, but risk too closely parroting their obvious influences. Though decent overall, Shared Visions is possibly both too experimental and yet too uninspired at the same time. The rawness of the album is one of its strongest and weakest attributes, at moments feeling woefully unrefined, yet refreshingly genuine. Above all, this is music the artists have made for themselves, but there’s plenty for the rest of us to enjoy as well.
If Gyre doesn’t remind you of Mastodon, you’re not paying attention. It’s difficult determining how I feel about new material that reminds me so concretely of older music I love. Some of my favorite sections are also the most distracting. “Faces Through the Flames” sounds like the love child of Brent Hinds and Baroness. “Wanting More” is a blatantly Mastodon-esque track, but is that a bad thing? “Come to Carry On” is probably my favorite track on the album, but that’s because it sounds like a total ripoff of Gojira’s “Born in Winter.” They surely lose me with the riff in “Liars and Friends, which sounds like a weak imitation of “Silvera,” also of Gojira. Perhaps mimicry is fine so long as it can stand up to the original.
Not all the album is a facsimile. Gyre experiment plenty, pulling from several sub-genres, giving each song its own identity. The clean vocals in “Wanting More” are mixed with a touch of reverb, enhancing a simple but captivating melody. At 2:45 of “At All Cost,” we get an unexpected beat change, accompanied by clean guitars and an engaging bass part. The opening of this track, however, is given a goofy modulation effect I’m too familiar with, much like many of the riffs throughout the album. “Weaving Blind” kicks off with a strange, chant-like mumble I could do without, but then transitions into one of the sexiest riffs on the album. I also enjoy the foreboding, crushing guitars in the opening track, but then the vocals shortly thereafter are woefully out of tune, and I can’t tell if it’s by design or not.
Some of these choices feel like these guys just do whatever the hell they want, and that’s because they do. They don’t have a record label telling them what to do, and whether you like the work or not, you can’t help but connect to Gyre’s creative process. I could see their approach actually appealing more to indie rock or punk fans. They are just three guys who love writing and recording music. I can picture them messing around with different effects and deciding on the fly what fits their shared vision. See what I did there?
Speaking of the album title, perhaps the biggest miss on the album is “See Through Hollow Dreams,” the track on which the titular line is delivered. It feels like they took the stoner rock idea too manifestly. It literally sounds like a couple hippies with a guitar and a hand drum vaguely musing about the future, sharing a groove that I simply don’t share. Oh, and the lyrics are useless, as they are through much of the album.
I understand not every song is going to be a revelation, and not every musician is as interested in writing lyrics as the next, but there’s no better opportunity to get your message across than through the words themselves—an opportunity that should be utilized to higher effect than what Gyre achieve on Shared Visions. The extent of the message appears to be that some people had a shared vision (never described), and it seems to be fading, so they’re pissed off. These ideas don’t mean anything. Give us something to chew on.
Though I appreciate how much of Gyre’s personality is displayed on Shared Visions, the album could have benefited from some bold editing. A lot of the material is redeemable, however, and I always opt for partially successful experimentation over none at all. With Gyre’s first full-length, glimpses of excellence poke through, and there’s room for both them, and the genre to grow.
FAVORITE TRACK: “Come to Carry On”
RELEASE DATE: 6/15/18
FOR FANS OF: Mastodon, Baroness