Greyhaven prove they have zero limits when pushing the boundaries within progression
When most people think of the state of Kentucky there’s a few things that might come to mind. A state which is largely known for its horse racing, a large amount of bourbon distilleries, the ever famous Kentucky Fried Chicken, and of course one of its largest and probably most well known exports; the ever famous Louisville Slugger. But one can’t forget that vast music scene which is produced by Kentucky and surprising as it may be, metal plays its part. Thus brings us to a band which hits just as hard as its city’s namesake bat, Greyhaven. The group sounds as if Every Time I Die and Norma Jean had a late night, drank a little too much of that delicious Kentucky bourbon and Greyhaven was the heavy hitting baby their metallic love making produced. Combining some of that groovy southern metal with just the right bit of mathcore thrown in for good measure, Greyhaven have an intensely unique sound in both their instrumentals and vocals. With their Equal Vision/Graphic Nature debut, Empty Black, they’ve ramped up all of the attributes which give them a sound all of their own.
With sound effects that almost sound like a cat possibly drowning in a metallic barrel full of water, before a ballistically heavy onslaught of raging guitars paired with vocalist Brent Mills’ blood curdling screams, “Sweet Machine” begins the beauty of Empty Black. One of the more overall melodic songs on the record, it hails to a metalcore of ‘ol with a mix of break neck speeds, and slower tempos all of which are perfectly placed to accentuate that specific moment. For fans familiar with Greyhaven‘s debut Cult America, they already know what an incredible clean set of singin’ lungs he’s got, but the chorus on “Sweet Machine” truly shows he’s fine tuned and focused his craft even further.
“Blemish” almost feels as if it could have been a song featured on almost any early days ETID album, but truthfully could not have been performed by anyone but Greyhaven. The song begins with a southern metal-tinged, hardcore feel. Matched with singer Brent Mills switching back and forth between screams, which get increasingly higher and a half yelled-half sung mash up, you’re immediately thrown into a hellfire of heaviness. With clean vocals being much more prevalent on their sophomore album, Greyhaven couldn’t help but add a grooving second chorus with Mills doing only one of the things he does best. This is a track sure to please, and will assuredly incur no scrutiny from both metal and hardcore fans alike.
The initial single and first taste of what was to come with Empty Black, was “Echo and Dust Pt. I”. The track begins with a single guitar playing a sullen, almost bluesy plucking of notes matched with Mills singing in hushed tones. Shortly this breaks into ramped up bass and guitars with a consistent drum roll reminiscent of waves rolling into shore again and again. With no lack of intensity, the songs overall feel matches the sad context of struggle and strife its lyrics portray. A song which perfectly portrays the extent of how multifaceted the group can be, it was a more than perfect choice in which to remerge to the world.
“Mortality Rate” is a balls out, ravenous monster of a song straight outta the gate. A song which feels as if even on the lowest setting of volume could still tear straight through your speakers to your eardrums. The group is relentless with each and every instrument beginning to end. The song starts out with a guitar and bassline, which sounds as if both Nick Spencer’s and Johnny Muench’s fingers could possibly fall clean off by the end of it. Ethan Spray’s drumming is so exceptionally fervent, to call it “heavy hitting” would be an understatement if not insulting. Brent Mills impassioned screaming throughout the verses is only mirrored by his exceptional cleans in the chorus. The song finds an extremely perfect balance between a rhythmic melody and neck snapping speeds. The outro to the track has a slow and heavy build up, ultimately and suddenly resulting in a silence that could only leave the listener with a smile on their face, and a relief if only because they can finally once again catch their breathe.
One of the more surprising, yet absolutely welcome songs on Empty Black is entitled “White Lighters”. Definitely the softest track on the album, yet perhaps the most impactful. A distorted riff is perfectly paired with Mills’ more delicately sung tones during the songs first verse. With each passing bit leading up to the initial chorus, both the vocals and instrumentals grow increasingly louder with both drums and bass being slowly introduced. As previously stated, one of the bands greatest assets is Mills’ stunning clean vocals, and this couldn’t be any clearer than on “White Lighters”. From the most silken of timbres, to thunderous and harmonious wails, he truly has a long ranging singing ability. This is probably one of the most stand out tracks on the entire album.
Kentucky is known for a multitude of its attributes, but up until such an unstoppable and creative force such as Greyhaven, metal probably wasn’t one of them. This band is poised to add that to the list and put Kentucky metal on the map. A sound all of their own, Greyhaven could not be pigeon holed truly into any one specific genre. Sure, at their core they’re metal, but with an unfathomable amount of other styles and genres added to their repertoire, the group brings an interesting new meaning to the term ‘progressive’. Empty Black completely delivers on so many fronts, a listener would be hard pressed to find something that doesn’t tickle their fancy. Greyhaven took the sound from their debut and refined it until they had far surpassed what could be considered the peak of excellence. With Empty Black, Greyhaven have truly found their sound, and the world of metal will be better for it.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Greyhaven – Empty Black
With a sound all of their own, Greyhaven will truly show the world that even the sky can’t limit the scope of their creativity. With Empty Black the group have proven that you can take the basis of that which makes up metal music, and can bend and shape it in any way you please. It’s intensely talented musicianship is only matched by the profound and incredible lyrics. Greyhaven have truly created a masterpiece with Empty Black.