Deathwhite – Grey Everlasting Review

Deathwhite clearly enjoy the role of enigmatic mega-mystery band. For ten long years, they’ve toiled to release dark, gothy-tinged doom music with cascading negative thoughts and feelings, and all without revealing who is actually in the band. Their sound has gone through some evolution over the decade but here on album number three, Grey Everlasting, they’ve firmly locked themselves into the same soundscape as Katatonia and Warning, dropping much of the alt-metal elements in favor of bleak, unhappy odes to bummertude. Written at the height of the pandemic and heavily inspired by it, the concepts and music are all downbeat, depressive and uniformly…grey. In this way, they share the same DNA as recent Swallow the Sun and Katatonia, and fans of those acts will find much to appreciate in the morose emotional wastes presented here. But is there such a thing as too much grey?

The early moments of Grey Everlasting form a kind of link to 2020s Grave Image, with proper opener “Earthtomb” launching into a furious old school black metal assault before settling into uber-glum doom akin to Warning and the mellower moments of Ghost Brigade. The song drips with broken hope and dejection and Unknown Vocalist #345 does a great job conveying pain and despair with clean, plaintive singing. The songs that follow all weave the same tales of isolation and loss, but without the upticks of extreme music. “No Thought or Memory” is very effective and hints at Rapture and Dawn of Solace as it plucks the heartstrings with low-key mourning. “Quietly, Suddenly” borrows several chapters from mid to late-era Anathema to lay on the sullen charm and it too has a way of getting under your skin.

By the time the title track hits you with more Anathema worship you begin to realize Grey Everlasting is going to spend much of the time in low-gear. Each song ably conveys greyness and doomy melancholy, but there’s very little variation of differentiation from one shade of grey to the next. By the time “White Sleep” kicks off with more aggressive drum blasting you’ve been marinating in one texture for so long that it comes as a shock. Bright moments do occur regularly like the Insomnium meets Katatonia semi-urgency of “Formless” to the more dramatic “So We Forget.” There’s no doubt however that the album needs more jolts of extremity to shake things up, because as good as much of the material is, taken together things often feel too static and same…monotonous. This tends to make the album’s 48 minutes feel longer than it is, and by the last few tracks I start to drift and can’t stay in the pocket. Add in a few less interesting cuts and it brings the whole enterprise down a few notches. The sound is fine, but lacks the heft and power heard on past outings. The guitars feel relatively light and nonthreatening, and there’s no crunch or punch to the music. This despite a master by Dan “The fucking MAN” Swanö himself.

As always the unknown doom denizens of Deathwhite deliver top-notch performances musically. The guitars weep and layer all kinds of melancholic lullabies for you to rest on as you drift from funeral to funeral in a dazed despondency. There’s a greater keyboard orchestration in play than before. but it doesn’t crowd out the guitars or come over as cheesy or overweening. Unknown Vocalist #345 once again does a fine job leading the sadboi parade, oftentimes in the same place delivery-wise as Jonas Renkse. He doesn’t switch things up much, but he does adopt a more commanding tone on “White Sleep” that works very well, and there are vague dabblings in semi-harsh vocals on “Immemorial.” The issue is the color palette they decided to work with here, which is…50 shades of grey. It’s simply too much of one thing to really rock my boat, though taken on their own most tracks are decent to quite good.

Grey Everlasting is not so much a departure for Deathwhite as it is a doubling down. The result is a somnambulant album loaded with emotions, but they feel distant, like you’re observing them at range rather than experiencing them yourself. This blunts the impact significantly, but the material is still good for what it is. I continue to believe Deathwhite have one monumental opus in them, and we will get it someday, but that day is not today. Grey 4 eva!

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: June 10th, 2022

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