Empty Black

Written by: KW on 22/05/2018 22:19:08

In another edition of “Why on earth are these guys not bigger?”, today we’re going to dive down into the second album release from the best new metalcore band you’ve never heard of. Greyhaven, from Louisville, KY, plays a brand of attitude-filled metalcore, the rawer side of metalcore that Norma Jean and Every Time I Die, in my opinion, currently rules, and if any of those bands make you tingly inside, well, I have just the album for you to check out in “Empty Black”!

The record starts out very strong with a track called “Sweet Machine”, that perfectly sums up what the band’s sound is all about. After some eerie noise, the listener is instantly met with chaotic hardcore guitars and ferocious screams, later evolving into a catchy as hell chorus that has been stuck in my head ever since my first play-through. But this catchiness isn’t all Greyhaven delivers on the track, as the last 2 minutes turn way more moody and atmospheric in a surprising twist that works out incredibly well as a contrast to the high intensity. However, the intensity quickly returns on one of the best cuts on the album, “Blemish”, which includes some fiery, disorienting mathcore riffs that are quite clearly inspired by the likes of Norma Jean and The Dillinger Escape Plan. But props especially have to go out to frontman Brent Mills on this track. His vocal styles are incredibly varied, ranging from hardcore yells and screams, spoken passages, clean metalcore singing (where his timbre reminds me of Marcus Bridge from Northlane) and some sassy ‘whines’ (for lack of a better word) akin to some of Daron Malakian’s work (System of a Down), which gives it this crazy, nutcase-vibe. It is also clear that a lot of care went into writing the vocal patterns and lines, making them almost rap-like at times and super entertaining to listen to. The pre-chorus in “Blemish” is a great example of this, where he spits out the following memorable lyrics:

Break apart the Earth

Desperate thoughts they never leave

Break apart the Earth, distaste for all things

Another absolutely savage track comes in the form of “Mortality Rate”, which grooves away as Mills questions in that aforementioned sassy manner: ”Will I ever find good fashion sense?”, before the last breakdown smacks you in the face with one of those sexy, southern rock-infused guitar riffs that Every Time I Die are known for. Fans of that band will definitely find something to enjoy here and I can picture myself the riot that could happen when this is played live in front of a beer-ed up crowd. “Ten Dogs - Red Heaven” once again lowers the intensity in favour of a more ethereal sound, a sound which definitely has some clear similarities to Norma Jean’s latest, fantastic outing “Polar Similar”. The track switches between heavy wailing guitars and a catchy sing-along chorus that is made more powerful through great vocal harmonies.

Then the brawling hardcore attitude all but disappears in the clear outlier track of the album. “White Lighters” is a chilling metalcore ballad, seemingly about a loved one’s struggle with drug addiction, and features the most emotional performance from Mills as he begs: ”Listen darlin’, why you poking holes in yourself / Darlin’, why you poking holes”. The climactic, grand ending sent shivers down my spine and the track stands as a welcome change of pace and emotional tone. The following three tracks are unfortunately also the least memorable on the album. What they possess in pure aggression and chaos, they also just lack in the sheer catchiness department found on the first half of the album, though “Day is Gone” does have a really cool, almost Deftones-esque feel to it, with dreamy clean vocals and quite airy guitar work with big arpeggio chords.

The album does end on a big note though, with one of the best tracks on the album, and probably the most progressive sounding of the bunch. As the name suggests, “Echo and Dust Pt. II” reprises some parts from the first part found earlier on the album, but puts an almost depressive and sinister touch to riffs and vocals. Saying that the album ends with a bang would be an understatement, as a creepy audio sample taken from a female test subject during an LSD research experiment conducted in the ‘50s signals that something huge is coming. The filthiest sludge riff then explodes and wraps it all up in spectacular fashion. I could not have asked for a better ending to this fantastic album — it completely floored me.

At this point it should also be noted that the production is almost flawless and was done at the hands of Will Putney (Fit For An Autopsy), who is quickly becoming one of my favourite producers in modern metal. It has the clarity and crispness of modern production but retains some of that dirty and raw power needed for this kind of album to really kick your teeth in (he also produced the latest Every Time I Die album, so if you have heard that one, you know what I mean).

“Empty Black” is simply a testament to how metalcore can still sound fresh and exciting today, which is not something the genre can boast itself with always. It joins the similarly sounding Norma Jean magnum opus, “Polar Similar”, as one of my favourite metalcore releases in the last decade, and I just love it when a band of this relatively low notoriety kicks the door in like this. All we need now is for them to bless Denmark with a visit. Please?


Download: Sweet Machine, Blemish, Mortality Rate, Ten Dogs - Red Heaven, White Lighters, Echo and Dust Pt. II
For the fans of: Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, He Is Legend, The Dillinger Escape Plan
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.03.2018
Equal Vision

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