Review: Giraffe Tongue Orchestra’s Broken Lines Is A Monster Of An Album


If you missed Alternative Nation’s interview with William DuVall, click here to check it out.

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, the alternative-metal super group featuring members of Alice in Chains, Mastodon, The Mars Volta and The Dillinger Escape Plan, have finally unleashed their debut album on the masses. Whereas super groups don’t appear to pop nearly as frequently as they did in the mid-ought’s, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra are a welcome, exciting surprise from a truly unique group of musicians.

Make no mistake. Broken Lines is a monster of an album. “No-One is Innocent” kicks off the ten song-set and from the first words sang, William DuVall absolutely shines. The immediacy in which he sings is almost addictive. DuVall has been great with Alice In Chains over the past decade and his two albums with the band are great; but he sounds freer here. Perhaps able to step out of the insanely huge shadow of Layne Staley a bit and let more of his true self come through.

DuVall’s vocal ability also brings a certain accessibility to the project. The music throughout is punishing. Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds is in true Mastodon form slaying with odd time signature riffs and crazy leads that would make Kerry King’s head spin. The best example being “Adapt or Die.” While the music is frenetic and chaotic, DuVall piles on strong melodies and a sing –along chorus. You find yourself humming the hook long after listening it.

The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mars Volta and Mastodon all are known for their immense musicianship and extremely intricate music. Ben Weinman and Brent Hinds make more than a formidable duel guitar tandem. Seamlessly, GTO goes from the math-core, post-hardcore music of the Dillinger Escape Plan to the more progressive, cerebral sounds of Mastodon. On “Fragments & Ashes” this effect is worked to perfection. You can’t get comfortable in one musical arena as a listener as you’re bounced back and forth between both worlds.

If you listen closely to the music during instrumental breaks, there are times you would think you were absolutely listening to Mastodon. The influence of Hinds’ signature style comes to the forefront repeatedly. Mastodon are capable of sounding very abrasive. Hearing Duvall sing over Mastodon-type music is really, well music to my ears. With ease, the band bounce between their defined styles while making it their own. “Crucifixion” is the most powerful song on the album. If you needed one song to define what this band is, that would be the song. Crazy guitars, impassioned vocals and musicianship through the roof, you get it all.

The southern-rock, eerie sounding “Blood Moon” shows off the sonic range of the band. Maybe DuVall’s greatest vocal performance on the album. It’s hard to say because he just dominates throughout. “Blood Moon” not only sounds better than most of what you hear on modern rock radio but could easily be put into rotation. The huge hooks and again, the ability of the song to stay with you long after listening say all you need to know about it.

What separates Broken Lines from albums by other super groups which I will not name, is that GTO takes each members own unique identity and builds upon that. There is no resting on laurels here. In fact, it’s hard to believe that this is not a long-running band. The sound is so well-defined and focus is so sharp. Where Giraffe Tongue succeeds above all else is that Broken Lines leaves you wanting more GTO. Sure you can go listen to the individual member’s bands that make up the project, but that won’t suffice. Not that we don’t love those bands; we absolutely do! But here’s to hoping Giraffe Tongue Orchestra will not be a one-off project. Although if it were to be the only album by them, you really couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Key Tracks: Blood Moon, Crucifixion, Fragments & Ashes, Adapt Or Die