There are two things that you should probably know about Melbourne prog-death outfit Growth. First of all they are ambitious – I mean what other band jumps head first into their career with a trilogy of albums exploring something as deep as mental illness. And secondly they are a band that will never die wondering. As a band they try everything humanly possible on this album and unlike some other bands out there they live up to their prog description by wearing it as a badge of honour.
From the opening of first track “Cigarette Burns” you know that The Smothering Arms Of Mercy is going to be like no other album that you have heard this year. It opens like a band warming up before a gig, each instrument is all over the place and then everything falls into place as Luke Frizon’s (ex Jack The Stripper) powerful vocals hit… it is at that moment that you know that you are about to experience something very special with this album.
Next track, “The Treatment For Melancholy” has a more traditional opening but the prog side of Growth comes to the fore which crazy and edgy guitar work from Tristan Barnes while Frizon’s manic screams of “let me go” take this track into a dark yet brilliant realm that few other bands have ventured into this year.
That wide difference between Growth and any Aussie artists this year becomes even more apparent with “Fortress Of Flesh And Bone” which starts with some slow, moody guitar that literally has the audience hearing every moment of reflection from Barnes. Then throughout the tracks we are treated to an onslaught of Frizon’s vocals while each instrument seems to be doing its own thing while at the same time also working in unison to bring us some of the most pleasant prog-death that you are ever likely to hear.
Even the more traditional sounding tracks like “Our Lady Of The Hanging Heart,” “Lead Us To Our Glorious Times” and “Darkly It Tightens Its Grip” are made ten times better by Frizon’s amazing vocals while the manic sound of the band’s instrumental side returns on “Soul Rot.”
Again “Something Follows” sees the strong instrumental side of Growth come to the fore and the band’s brilliance is there for all to hear on an epic closing track that never lets up for the entire 11 minutes of its life. It is a track of an epic scale but is sheer brilliance.
I have hear some great albums in 2020 but none even come close to the amazing, epic nature of “The Smothering Arms Of Mercy.” This is an album like no other and heralds the start of a band that is surely going to become one of the heavy greats.