Originally written by Chris Redar
New Jersey’s The Banner has been farting around the edges of the hardcore arena since 2003. According to the band’s Wikipedia, approximately 2/3 of the population of the Garden State (is NJ the Garden State? I mean, if that’s actually its nickname, then they must’ve called it that before they scorched the state and salted the Earth behind them. New Jersey is what landscapers think about when they’re committing suicide) has passed through its ranks. So it’s of little surprise that Greying, the band’s fourth official full-length, has a tendency to play like a collection of influences rather than an entity all its own.
Leadoff “The Dying of the Light” is essentially a Gaza tune. The sludged-up pacing, the minimal strums—only the vocal pattern differentiates this from that particular defamed act and the other slew of ‘dark hardcore’ bands that grew to prominence during that particular era. It doesn’t mean that it sounds bad, per se, but it does sound wholly unoriginal. Now, originality isn’t a necessity (especially in latter-day hardcore—if anything, it’s frowned upon), but if a band is going to be derivative, they better sure as shit do it while shoving some thunder up the listener’s ass.
Greying achieves the cheek-bolting occasionally through sheer virtue of reminding one of other bands that they like—In particular, the Type O Negative aping of “Sunlight” and “Send Me Down”. These two tracks, both in production style (there’s a general vibe that these were recorded in the room next to the microphones, giving them a wispy, ethereal vibe) and in content, stand far away from the rest of the album. An entire album of this kind of stuff would be far more engaging as opposed to the breakdown-heavy fare of the ‘traditional’ stuff presented elsewhere. Vocalist ‘Joey’ (super cool nickname) has the Peter Steele ‘Bela Lugosi wailing from his coffin’ thing locked down pretty nicely. If you’re going to ape, might as well latch on to King Kong.
‘Engaging’ is not a word that would generally fit the rest of the album, however. There are entertaining moments—“Unbaptized” is a short and sweet pit-starter (and, it bears mentioning, that the shouting of ‘UN-BAP-TIZED’ sounds like ‘NO-PANTS-ON’, so when you hear ‘I STAND ALONE/NO-PANTS-ON’, it’s hard not to relate), and closer “Sunset” has a Midian-era Cradle of Filth thing going on. Were we presented with more earnest goth, this could have been a super-sweet eyeliner record. However, this is easy enough to listen to and then move on to something a bit more challenging.