Review: Meryl Streaker - "Sky Burial"

Meryl Streaker - Sky Burial
(Driftwood/Ronald 2014)

Often, bands are praised for their ability to fluctuate, be it in tone, mood or instrumentation, but rarely will you come across acclaim for an act whose output is wholly monolithic. It takes meticulous attention to detail and production to create an album that maintains a static sense of emotion and flows seamlessly throughout, and it's even more difficult to do so without sacrificing the interest of the listener. Sky Burial, the new tape offering by San-Diego emoviolence trio Meryl Streaker, provides a great example of a release that stretches a moment's worth of unadulterated emotion into an expanse of influence. The mood in question here is one of rage and frustration, a subject that no member of the band is a stranger to, as each is connected to the project Flowers Taped To Pens, a post-hardcore 4-piece that brings an often fast and blistering intensity to the warm twinkle of 90's midwestern emo. Meryl Streaker brings that same intensity to the table, but from a different source of sonic inspiration: dark, growling guitar, slathered in reverb, calling to mind the eerie drone of black metal, or the sinister atonality of early Sonic Youth. The vocals are indecipherable screams, nearly as high-pitched as a dog-whistle, a great contrast against the melancholic, bassy instrumentation beneath. Tracks like "My Ishmael" balance melodicism with aggression, leading up to the grand finale, "Insignificant Steps and Shallow Breath", in which delicate guitar notes spiral downwards like the dimly lit staircase of a haunted house, weeping beneath banshee like screams. It may, initially, be difficult to cull beauty from the grim depths of Meryl Streaker's bleak delivery, but there are actually gobs of it buried within, to those in the right mindset.