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Deathwhite - Grave Image

Deathwhite
Grave Image
by Chris Hawkins at 26 February 2020, 6:56 PM

DEATHWHITE is an American band with a very European sound.  Theirs is a sound cultivated from an extensive library of Peaceville Records’ 90s releases that many of us have worshipped over the years.  In the 90s, while Black Metal was grabbing the headlines, there were a fresh crop of bands creating new sounds that blended elements of what were once vastly disparate scenes, among them Death Metal, Doom, and Gothic Rock in exciting new ways.  The success of TYPE O NEGATIVE opened the door for bands from MOONSPELL to MY DYING BRIDE and AMORPHIS to further blend dark atmosphere with captivating melodic ideas.  DEATHWHITE is a band that too champions this time in Metal history and like IDLE HANDS with their last album, “Mana,” show that there is still much territory left to cover in the blending of stout, metallic guitar riffs with eerie and haunting elements of more Gothic atmosphere.

Any lover of European Doom, particularly mid-90s stuff like ANATHEMA, KATATONIA, and PARADISE LOST will dig this album.  There is definitely the element of cross breeding between a heavier Doom-based sound and a melodic SISTERS OF MERCY-focused Goth side.  There was a point back then when it seemed like suddenly all of those bands were expressing their taste for SISTERS OF MERCY and gloomy DEPECHE MODE sensibilities.  DEATHWHITE sounds like a band that would have been signed to Century Media or Peaceville in ’96 working on what would be regarded as monumental material despite any initial protest.

Funeral Ground” gradually descends into existence with a striking arrangement of open-voiced chords.  When the verse begins, one is confronted with a highly melodic vocal style adding just the right amount of foreboding to the creepy minor-key guitar part.  It is a song that slowly shifts between sections with a very pronounced invocation type of feel.  One is greeted by a slight glimpse of the band and be sure, the best is yet to come.  “In Eclipse” starts out immediately with a score to settle as a much darker side of the band’s sound is explored.  During the verse section, the vocals hit on a SISTERS OF MERCY-style croon that seems to work well against the minor key chords.

Production-wise, the album plays out like a dark Doom/Goth Metal record should.  There is an emphasis placed on creating a huge yet modern sound.  The gloomy atmospheres are sculpted with a three-dimensional guitar sound that is both articulate and expansive.  The rhythm section is solid and if there is any possible point of contention, it may be how folks react to the vocals.  Personally, the KATATONIA comparison is very, very strong, and while not my favorite group of that bunch, I strongly support and recognize the eminence of their legacy.  Hearing what can ultimately be labeled a newer band, less than ten years old, pay such respect to a legendary sound within Metal is refreshing.

The fifth track, “Among Us,” is another excellent selection with stout guitar work and haunting vocals.  There is a smoky haze to this one that makes it feel alive.  The breakdown toward the middle is a prodigious use of dynamics but when the vocals come in, it is almost too abrupt of a halt to the abrasive riff.  Again, it may all come down to personal taste.  The following track, “Words of Dead Men,” is perhaps the best example on the album of the DEATHWHITE formula.  The way the riffs converge with the vocal melodies in this track seems to just work.  The solo in the latter portion of the song is expressive and emotive.  The blistering palm-muting done in the chorus is what makes it truly memorable.

Ultimately, just how much the reader is going to be enamored with DEATHWHITE is obviously purely subjective.  I’d like to think that there are those lacking my aversion to KATATONIA who will simply fawn all over this.  What is without doubt, is that one will be impressed by the blend of melody and power.  Though there are other points of reference that I prefer, I cannot deny the accomplishment the band have made in creating an album that truly transports one to some place else.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Funeral Ground
2. In Eclipse
3. Further From Salvation
4. Grave Image
5. Among Us
6. Words of Dead Men
7. No Horizon
8. Plague of Virtue
9. A Servant
10. Return to Silence
Lineup:
DW - Bass, Backing Vocals
AM – Drums
LM – Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Season of Mist
     


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Edited 04 August 2020
 

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