When I was younger, I used to play classical piano. I had this book of songs and each one contained several variations of one melody. The first part would be the baseline and then each variation would take that melody and play it a little differently using harmony, counterpoint, or rhythm. Modern instrumental bands use this same approach too, and rightfully so because it works! Take, for instance, GILL’s self-titled debut in which each song uses different variations of a really good melody or a riff to keep listeners from tuning out.
The album kick off with “Stump,” a sludgy doom track with heavy riffs that repeatedly pummel while giving a subtle hint of melodic elements found in later tracks. “Michael Keaton” is straight up-tempo sludge showcasing Brandon Stacy’s drumming, where he uses rockabilly beats with impressive tom work. The tone of the album shifts with “Abbra Cadaver” and marks the first track where a melody is the center point rather than rhythm. This approach continues with “Pukus,” but it’s the jazz interlude that makes this one memorable. “The Loudest Silence” offers several variations of a single theme overlaid with some nice solo work and tremolo-picking bridging the different parts. It’s the acoustic variation at the end, though, that really makes this one stand out. After this, we delve back into hardcore sludge territory with “Papi Juan” and “Seizure Salad,” the latter having several strong riffs that go into some trippy guitar effects held tight by a solid drum track.
The track order on GILL seems intentional, as if the first and last two songs are sludge-influenced bookends around some remarkable post hardcore/metal. Listeners that don’t stick around after the first couple of songs are seriously missing out. The group seems well aware that if you’re going to build a whole song around a riff or melody, it better be a good one, and they know how long to let it breath before it begins to stagnate and become too repetitive. Overall, the songs on GILL are gritty and raw, but at the same time sophisticated. Instrumental songs are not as simple as writings songs without vocals. It’s actually quite difficult and GILL have managed do it surprisingly well.