Every individual that is artistic has an individual spark of some light that they can bring to the world. Even if we’re talking about death, despair, and the destruction of humankind, there’s still light in that.
Enigmatic dark metal quartet Deathwhite embrace that dichotomy beautifully on their third full-length record. Grey Everlasting, out June 10 via Season of Mist. The record continues their evolution away from individual despair and melodic doom into something that’s existential, haunted, and laced with the might of extreme metal. Grey Everlasting contains the band’s most fully realized vision yet, with a widescreen approach to dark metal that is riveting and all-encompassing.
I’m a big fan of art that reflects on how exploring the depths of the darkness is the only way to appreciate the light. Thematically, both musically and in the lyrics, and even in the beautiful artwork for Grey Everlasting, there’s this notion that the cycle of life is really what we need. And the cycle includes harsh elements like black and death riffs.
“You make these great points,” the band state, “about the darkness and the light and that’s really the lyrical foundation for us, especially across Grey Everlasting. We’ve become a lot more of an existential, outward-facing band, and the things going on in the world always really make each other within the band scratch our heads as that why and how these things happen. Humanity has all these great advantages and all these great tools and all these wonderful things at our disposal, but it continues to shoot itself in the proverbial foot.
“That’s sort of where we are as a band, and Deathwhite from a lyrical front, you have support of unscrupulous characters who lied and lie and see people. Yet, they’re embraced by a large portion of folks throughout not only our country, but the world as well. You have climate change; You have greed; You have social media playing such a heavy role into people’s lives. It’s all these tools that could be used for great, beneficial purposes are done to the detriment of humanity. And that’s really what Grey Everlasting is about.”
“It also has a little bit,” they continue, “of some thoughts about the pandemic just wanting to forget that it just all happened and move on to another part of life and see what else is out there and see what’s in front of you. So it’s a mixture of those two things. When we started, we were very much a personal inward-facing band, but as we’ve progressed and written more songs and the world unfortunately continues to take such perilous turns, it’s become very easy fodder for us to compose our songs. But if you do go through the 11 songs on Grey Everlasting, there always is at least some little spec of light scattered in there whereas before, we were just total unrelenting darkness. Now there’s maybe just this little iota of light available.”
Part of that balance comes from being one of the most notable metal acts to fully employ melodic singing, and that aspect of Deathwhite’s sound has never been as wonderfully executed as it is here
“(The vocals are) an extension as another instrument, and I don’t think people understand how difficult it is sometimes to write for a clean vocalist. Let’s face it, a vast portion of metal bands have a growl vocalist, or they have the Mastodon style vocals, where—how do I want to put it—you’re grunting in key. The gentleman who sings for us is not a professionally trained singer, but he is immensely talented. He understands musical theory. He understands harmonies. He understands how to get the most out of his vocals without stomping all over the music. So that is always really one of the first considerations when writing our songs, which is probably why we go through so many revisions because we are so conscious of where to put the vocals and how to make them sound good.
“So having a clean singer with this style of music,” they continue, “you usually you have to dumb down the riffs a little bit. It’s a bit of a give or take, push and pull, almost with that. We’re doing our best to strengthen that balance where we still want to have interesting riffs and harmonies and drums behind everything, but still the vocals really are what guide Deathwhite. And in many respects, that’s the first thing that people point out with our sound. We take great care to make sure that all the vocals fit, that we have the right words, and sometimes less is more; We don’t need to sing over every part. We’re sort of a band that’s some of its parts; There’s not one person in the band who overshadows or overrides everything. I t’s very much even distribution between all four of us.
“It’s interesting you keep mentioning this idea of the growth of the band, and I want to touch on that a little bit because not only do I think I speak for every human thankfully still alive at this point in existence that we’ve accelerated our own growth on our own deterioration as people over the last two years, right? We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, but also about the values and how we want to be in the world.
“We knew we couldn’t write another album like Graven Image, but we also wanted to tap into a little bit more of our background. A lot of us started out playing in death metal and black metal bands, and some of those things have shown through on Gray Everlasting, but the trick is, how do you incorporate those ideas while still maintaining what Deathwhite is about?
And that was really the balancing act. It just so happened that we started to write the album in March 2020, literally as the pandemic hit, and it really allowed us to isolate ourselves even more so than usual because we don’t tour; We’re not a very outward facing band. We’re very private. So that circumstance in it itself really helped push and give us that creative energy and drive that we needed to push Grey Everlasting in this direction.”
Watch the video for “No Thought or Memory” here:
Photo courtesy of Shane Mayer