By Earthdog

I am sure this has been said before but this band is beyond words, beyond genres and is one of the very few bands around today that is truly original. Giant Squid do combine sludge, doom, post-rock, and progressive rock and metal but the way they do it is just diverse and different. I have been following this band since 2006 when they released the very underrated 'Metridium Fields.' album and they seem to get just that bit more amazing with each release. This album, 'Cenotes' sees the band reaching their peak with an album that is a mesmerizing piece of work. 'Cenotes' is an ethereal, cinematic album that is so unique in every detail.

The album begins with 'Tongue Stones (Megaptera megachasmacarcharias)' and as you will able to tell by the song-titles, the band does have an obsession with all things oceanic. This opener kicks off with Jackie Perez Gratz on cello and then gentle guitars and interesting drums are slowly brought into the mix. There is a sitar being played in the background which gives the track a Middle-Eastern vibe but eventually doom-riffage is introduced and the track builds in dramatics and as it takes the music on a merciless, rapacious, and unrestrained attack. Overall, this album doesn't seem as heavy as their earlier albums but it does have some of the heaviest passages they have ever produced. The guitar seems more down-tuned than usual on this album but this band is far from a straight-forward riff-rock/doom-metal act. The diverse nature of their songs means they are hard to tag with any genre especially doom but this band still unleashes hellish doom riffage. However, they use it in a very parsimonious way which makes each "heavy" section very effective.

'Mating Scars (Isurus metridium)' is rich in melodies with even more emphasis on the aquatic theme. It is not only the lyrical angle but it is also in the atmosphere; this track really makes you feel like you are on a ship somewhere. The track flows on beautifully from the opening track so it is almost like a 'part-two' than another track all off its own even though it's different musically. This track showcases the band excellent skills at creating melodies that are simply engaging, hypnotic listening experiences....another great track. 'Snakehead (Channidae erectus)' has more stunning melodies and more dynamic musicianship. It begins softly before building up its heaviness and tension but as usual, it is done in a totally unique way. Jazzy guitars are used along with more cello and this track is the albums most melancholic piece. The following 'Figura Serpentinata (Pycnopodia sapien)' is the shortest track at just under four minutes and is the only track where all the vocals are delivered by Jackie Perez Gratz. All other tracks have shared vocals between her and guitarist Aaron Gregory.

Just like the music, the vocals also have extraordinary attention to detail. They are not amazingly gifted vocalists with their range but the way they are blended in with the stunning, dynamic music is hypnotic and flawless. The album ends on the title track which is another showcase for the emotive vocals and guitar dynamics but even though this track is over 6 minutes long, it seems to be all over and out in no time at all. That, and only that, is the albums only downfall. Even though it still seems like a complete piece of work, it is painfully short and you can't help but think, it deserves another 10 to 20 minutes of music just to put the icing on the cake. Maybe there is a part two to this album lying around, I don't know but if there was ever an album that deserves a sequel, it is this one. 'Cenotes' is the kind of album that even non-metal people can be mesmerized by even with its heavy passages of down-tuned riffage. This is a masterpiece, the bands best work yet and a pure joy to listen to............9.5/10.