Grinding a Teeth / Zero Sleep by IIVII

Release date: April 10, 2020
Label: Consouling Sounds

The Josh Graham headed IIVII return with their most ambitious work to date with not one but two full length musical projects. The resulting albums, which are entitled Zero Sleep and Grinding Teeth, are truly epic collections of music that take in so many different aspects of sound from minimalistic to grandiose and avant-garde to classical via full on waves of grinding metal.

These pieces of work are packed full of contributions from other musicians such as Jo Quail and Kim Thayil among others and all their contributions are superb. But this is very much a Josh Graham project and for all the exhaustive work he puts in here, the Red Sparowes / Neurosis / A Storm Of Light man deserves all the plaudits he will undoubtedly get.

This is one epic album but split into two releases although the best way to listen is in conjunction with one another. Much like his former colleagues in Neurosis and their side project Tribes Of Neurot having dual albums like Through Silver In Blood / Silver Blood Transmission and Times Of Grace / Grace that worked side by side to create colossal sonic pieces, this is very much two albums that are interlinked and meant to be played together to do much the same.

Grinding Teeth is probably a harsher listen, full of an electronic foreboding atmosphere especially on pieces like ‘Sing Your Death Song’ and the mournful ‘Wrapped In Linen’ and by the time you reach the menacing closing number ‘Afterglow (Little Black And White Things)’, you’ll feel as if you experienced some sort of trip to hell, such is the air of horror that the music makes you feel.

Zero Sleep is a more ethereal and minimal piece of work but it is no less harrowing than Grinding Teeth and its take on things is just as mournful yet overbearingly powerful especially on the likes of ‘Mirrorlike’, ‘Sun And Solace’ and ‘Coalescing Bodies’, while just like Grinding Teeth, the conclusion of Zero Sleep is a majestic piece of music entitled a loss that emits a religious, powerful vibe while sounding defiantly menacing.

The two pieces of work do tell a story and through the music, that story is unraveled through a soundtrack of haunted beats and bleak soundscapes in a listening experience that is at times unsettling and harrowing but never anything less than compelling.

There is plenty to explore here but this isn’t something you can just dip in and out of. This is a unique listening experience that you have to delve in fully to truly appreciate the power of Grinding Teeth and Zero Sleep and fully understand the vision of what Josh Graham has done here with the apex of IIVII. It is not an easy listen at times, by any means, but it is one that will sweep you away and is extremely worth it. It is, as one, a collection of music that you will want to explore again and again, each listen unraveling more details that were previously missed, and one that unravels the story more and more.

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