Grandmaster Cockroach is an alternative rock duo made up of Loukas Giannakitsas, who sings and plays electric bass and Panagiotis Siamantis on drums. Formed in Athens during 2017, the two had previously collaborated as members of The Junkie Opera Choir, and decided to start a new project. Influenced by artists as diverse as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, The Prodigy, Korn, Beastie boys, Nirvana, Grandmaster Cockroach have recently released their debut album, entitled “Music for Lousy Speakers”.
This is an alt-rock act that can go from a blasting furnace of fiery fury, to subtler, softer, ambient way of getting their message across. Replacing the wall-of-overdriven-bass-guitar with a more complex, textural and yet accessible sound. The inventive, fluid, constantly shifting tones of this album go to make it both hook-laden and yet scathingly aggressive.
Kicking off with what was the album’s first single, “Ecstacy”, Grandmaster Cockroach come out of the gate screaming, only to fall back into instrumental understatement, before once again exploding with its guitar crunch. “Lolita, I Do” mixes melody, rap verses and rumbling basslines supported by some excellent drumming.
The duo don’t just tell stories, they sit your mind down in a chair for 1o tracks minutes, open your eyes, and provide a musical consistency that conveys their messages of immediacy with high-end energy and poignancy.
Throughout “Music for Lousy Speakers”, it is evident that the creativity devoted to the vibration of each string or intensity of each drum beat is concentrated on blending the sound rather than having a single instrument stand out. The sheer talent of each musician is amplified as a result of this cohesiveness.
Developing such a focused sound is particularly remarkable on any track, considering that all the noise is made by bass and drums. The interplay on both, the powerful “Manneken” and the exceptionally subtle and dynamic “Oh!Whimsy” emphasizes the musical chemistry between Giannakitsas and Siamantis.
“Hngd” takes the album in a new direction musically as it breaks down the pace with its post-rock expansiveness. “Sleep” brings a chilling interlude with its disturbingly evolving soundscape, while maintaining a striking atmosphere. The vocals roar and soar as it weaves its way through the electric sludge and crunch.
The bone-crushing metal inspired riffs drive “Lucifer’s Blues” into oblivion where it hovers on a whisper, before descending into sonic hell, leaving a dramatic impression on the listener. “Clown of the Universe – Part 1” itself, is a vigorous, visceral, and near-perfect example of what modern alt-rock can be.
“In My Mind” is the sound of no compromise, bracing and pure. The neck-bulging vocals soar to incredible heights, driven by the euphoric drum and bass foundation. This song presents some of the most blistering moments on the album, which closes with “Oh! Whimsy (Remix)” – a most interesting take on the original.
Both tracks are among the most accessible songs on this album, and wouldn’t be out of place on mainstream radio. The lyrics, ethic, and musical talent shown on “Music for Lousy Speakers”, create a force that tears through the veil of modern alt-rock, allowing a brilliant light to emerge through the glossy pretension.