This has, for whatever reason, been one of the hardest reviews that I have been tasked with writing in quite some time. However, the information is all there for decoding purposes — it is just difficult to wrap your head around at times. That said, as an instrumental album without any kind of insert, you’d normally be left in the dark regarding what exactly this record is about. “Delusions of Grandeur” is thus an album that will leave you thinking, and one that is seemingly intent on sending your mind into a realm of curiously dark interests. Trilobite is a duo made up of the same two gentlemen who run the Ivory Antler label in Alexander Toulas and Rob Murray, with both offering respective performances on guitar. They’ve been joined on this effort by Billy Anderson on bass and Eric Hernandez on drums. Hernandez has long been known for his work in the mathy hardcore project Capsule and has also been involved with several other projects including a short stint with KYLESA. Billy Anderson on the other hand is a name that is more well-known for his production work with projects like Swans, Neurosis, and several Mike Patton-related projects including Fantômas and Mr. Bungle than his bass skills, but he certainly holds his own with “Delusions of Grandeur”.
The album starts off a bit gloomy with a solo guitar intro melody that is played only for a short time before sludgey distortion kicks as heralded by a four-click hit of Hernandez’ hi-hat. With “Catalyst”, Trilobite’s chunky, rhythmic style is hinted at, but it the full scope of their talent doesn’t come into view until the title track “Delusions of Grandeur”. The title track features an emotional, mostly palm-muted that is kept articulated by Hernandez’ cymbal-work and sharp snare hits. The post-rock side of Trilobyte also comes out in this track through an ethereal guitar bridge that is broken down through heavy bass and tom-tom play that reminds of more epic moments from tracks like Isis’ “Holy Tears” but with a less progressive and more apocalyptic sound. The vinyl track on this side, “The Trench”, has a sort of retro, stoner appeal to the melodic guitar work, but also features some of the heaviest work on the album. Side B opens with “Australis” which in itself is probably the weakest of the five tracks featured with fairly straight-forward work all-around and a slightly sloppily-played guitar bridge that sounds out of place in regards to the rest of the track and album as a whole. “Following Seas” is all out chaos as it opens with harsh discordant chords coming out over the chunkier side of the verse. More post-rock influences are introduced afterwards as an atmospheric and, again, apocalyptic-sounding harmonious section comes into being. Most post-rock influences are to be found later in the track as well as one hell of a heavy ending.
Thematically, Delusions of Grandeur seems to take itself into several different directions. The illustrations as created by Justin Bartlett are frighteningly surreal and depict humanoid creatures that are either being overtaken by a growing parasite or evolving (or quickly de-evolving) into something disturbing. The images when combined with the album title “Delusions of Grandeur” seem to hint at a moderately nihilistic view of the arrogant modern thought that we as humans are created in god’s image when we’ve likely evolved from something much more primordial. Then there’s the eight pointed star on the back, representing both the chaos and the order of the natural universe, pointing out in every direction yet completely symmetrical. This is also the Gnostic symbol of creation which furthers the disturbing evolutionary view that is present here. All of this is assumed and none of it is spelled out, so what the project’s true notions are, only they know. However, there’s something very primitive to be found here, both in theme and in sound. Whether that’s assumed from something alien, or from something Earthly depends on your perception.
02) Delusions of Grandeur
03) The Trench
02) Following Seas