Indies And The Underground

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Review: The Gabriel Construct 'Interior City'

The solo project of composer-singer-songwriter Gabriel Lucas Riccio, The Gabriel Construct seeks to blur the lines between rock, metal, jazz, classical and pop. And with the help of  drummer Travis Orbin (Darkest Hour, ex-Periphery, Of Legends), bassist Thomas, Murphy (ex-Periphery), guitarist David Stivelman (ex-Debbie Does Dallas), saxophonist Soren Larson and violinist  Sophia Uddin, he does so on Interior City, often to frightening effect.  

There is a method to all the bleak lyrical and musical aesthetic madness though. Interior City is a concept album detailing a dark night of the soul, an individual’s journey from disconnection and self-loathing to re-discovering their humanity. ”Arrival In A Distant Land,” start things off in said dark place, with somber piano licks and spooky effects straight out of a slasher movie. “Alien Father,” mines similar nightmarish territory, as Riccio sings of alien invaders and body snatchers over distorted piano and densely layered harmonies.

The album wrings great moments out the tension that lies between the worlds of rock and classical. One of these is the visceral “Ranting Prophet,” where prog-rock fury and baroque elegance collide with vaguely Middle-Eastern guitar solos, maniacal violin work and Riccio ‘s lacerating screams.

“Fear of Humanity” comes on like a brooding dirge, until the drums, feedback and dueling guitars come roaring in midway as Riccio turns the track out into a steam-rolling sing-a-long, while the droning “Subway Dwellers,” with its stacked vocals, guitars that twist and turn into tense chord progressions and pummeling drums, feels like the hellish subway trip it describes.

Demented ivory-tickling comes to back to creep out ear drums again on the epic “Defense Highway;” the arrangement turning on a dime to somber horn solo before delving into crushing power chords again,  mirroring the lyrical visions of confusion (“One door opens while the others are closing/I walk through but I don’t know where it’s leading) and outright terror (“I have to hide/Get me out of here”), broken by moments of self-awareness (“I need what I fear and fear what I need”). “Inner Sanctum” churns with a slow, torturous feel, beginning with another ominous image–a smirking friend with dead eyes–but ending with a door opening to paradise, and the promise of everlasting sleep, as if our narrator is hurtling either towards death or self-actualization.

“Languishing In Lower Chakras” features little more than a piano and distant, garbled voices, but manages to have the effect of waiting for some unspeakable horror to jump out at you from the shadows, while “Curing Somatization” closes things out with a devastating loud-soft dynamic trick, swinging back and forth from chugging aggression to quiet, uncomfortable calm. Though the track sounds the aural descent into the ninth circle, its lyrics actually ends on an emotional high note (“Step outside/you are not alone”).

Unfortunately, Riccio’s vocal chops don’t always match his instrumental ones. He stays in a comfortable middle range for most of the album, rarely stretching himself outside the occasional growl or scream, while at times his voice is almost drowned out by the production. It would have be nice for him to try more vocal styles, being that so much of the music takes an experimental bent. Also, while the lyrical imagery is frequently compelling, at times it can be too wordy for its own good.

Despite these minor flaws, Interior City is a intriguing, unsettling album that establishes The Gabriel Construct, and Riccio himself, as an exciting musical force to be reckoned with.

4/5

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2 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Teresa Riccio posted July 05, 2013 at 10:44

    A terrific review but 2 points I’d like to make: (1) It’s ‘The Gabriel Construct’ (not ‘the gabriel construction’). (2) The vocals are wide-ranging covering nearly 3 octaves and are so densely layered in some sections that there are about 68 vocal tracks overlapping in the final song. The dissonance within the stacked vocals and the interweaving background vocal lines are extensive. Most of the more ‘experimental’ vocals happen in the background vocals. Thanks so much for a well-written and thoughtful review!

  • Comment by Kevin posted July 08, 2013 at 19:38

    Hi Teresa,

    Thanks for the compliments and the correction. Strange I didn’t see that:)!