Album Title: Grey Everlasting
Label: Season Of Mist
Date of Release: 10 June 2022
Released nearly two weeks ago, I am really tardy with this review, and for that I apologise to all those who are bitterly disappointed by my ineptitude. The thing is, I just missed it. And were it not for a nudge from outside sources, this album might have escaped me altogether. And, as it turns out, that would have been a real shame. ‘Grey Everlasting’ is the third full-length release from Deathwhite, a band that steadfastly refuses to uncover their identity, preferring to let the music do the talking. For a decade this has been the case and once again, their music has seen another shift as the enigmatic band continue their anonymous evolution towards whatever vision they have.
Written a couple of years ago at the very beginning of the global pandemic, when the world’s inhabitants locked themselves away in an effort to stay alive and protect loved ones, it will come as no surprise to learn that ‘Grey Everlasting’ is a bleak and maudlin affair. Never ones to jump for joy and express their exuberance via the medium of song, it is nevertheless immediately noticeable that the tone and feeling of Deathwhite’s latest creation is different. This may not be a bad thing though, because although I found much to like about their sophomore release, 2020’s ‘Grave Image’, I was far less a fan of their debut of 2018 entitled ‘For A Black Tomorrow’.
That said, I am firmly of the opinion that the band have never reached their full potential. Even within the debut, there were flashes of brilliance, albeit cloaked too heavily by material I referred to as ‘average’. The balance was better struck within ‘Grave Image’, but still, it wasn’t the home run that it might have been. But does the trend continue here with ‘Grey Everlasting’?
I started writing this review on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It has been a gloriously warm and sunny couple of days outside, so it feels utterly incongruous to the mood captured within ‘Grey Everlasting’. In trying to describe the music on this record, words such as ‘brooding’, ‘slow burn’, and ‘stark’ all come easily to mind, as the output here is carved more from the environs of dark metal than anything else.
The opening instrumental, ‘Nihil’ is a rich and powerful orchestrated piece that communicates a sense of the forlorn feelings and darkness that permeate this album. It is imbued with strong melodic traits and it has a sense of the cinematic, of a dystopian epic. But from there, ‘Earthtomb’ throws a curveball straight away thanks to a frenetic black metal assault, all cold and fast riffing alongside frenetic drumming. It doesn’t last long though, and whilst this element makes a return at points later in the song, the vast majority of the track inhabits a mid-to-slow-pace, where the rich Gothic tinged vocals duel with more orchestration, acoustic strumming, and heavier, churning riffs. Names like Swallow The Sun, Sentenced, Soen, My Dying Bride, and Katatonia are all relevant, despite none of them quite hitting the mark alone. It has taken several careful spins to get to this point but I’m entranced by the clever, subtle melodies that worm their way in to your brain cleverly and surreptitiously.
Frustratingly however, the album doesn’t always hit as hard as this opening duo do, with a few of the songs veering close to that ‘average’ description. For all of the chunky riffing, powerful atmospheres, and precise delivery, songs like ‘No Thought Or Memory’ don’t create the same impact for me. It is hard to explain, but the melodies feel a little underwhelming and one-dimensional.
As a result, ‘Grey Everlasting’ is not the killer third record that I was hoping for, but when they get it right, I do find myself wavering slightly. ‘Quietly, Suddenly’ is a beast that contains such emotion it’s impossible to ignore. Even the solo that emerges after the halfway point is laced with misery and torment. But it’s also the pronounced light and shade that stands it above other songs on this record, flitting from muscular to brittle in a heartbeat. Then there’s the beautiful title track itself which dials down the heaviness in favour of hushed vocals, quiet instrumentation, and a genuinely organic feel, particularly with the drums. It also demonstrates just how good the production is too, but with Shane Mayer (Cerebral Audio Productions) involved alongside Dan Swanö who mastered the album, and with vocals tracked at Mana Recording (Erik Rutan), it’s not surprising that ‘Grey Everlasting’ sounds so good.
The bass at the outset of ‘Immemorial’ is brilliant, as are the ensuing guitar notes that resonate and then disappear to be replaced by orchestration. The lead guitar melodies that bring ‘Formless’ to life, meanwhile, are stunning; they add a certain catchiness to the song overall, a description I wasn’t thinking of using in this review I must admit. But catchy and moving they are, inevitably leading to the conclusion that this is one of my favourite cuts on ‘Grey Everlasting’. And finally, a word for ‘Blood And Ruin’ which deals us a heavy, epic-sounding blow after a quiet and tentative opening.
It isn’t a particularly long album at 47 minutes, but the style of the music and the constant maudlin atmosphere makes it feel longer than it is. It does seem to drag a little towards the end, so perhaps a song or two of the eleven could have been cut entirely, but that’s me just thinking out loud. All-in-all, I have to admit that ‘Grey Everlasting’ is probably my favourite from Deathwhite so far, meaning that they continue their slow ascent in my estimations. I like this chosen path, and it really does tell us that the musicians involved here are highly accomplished. I just wanted a little more overall, be it more potent melodies, or a little greater variation. As always though, I will enjoy chunks of what I’ve been served here and wait patiently to see if I can be blown away by their next effort.
The Score of Much Metal: 84%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
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