Monday, 27 February 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Grey Widow - "II"

By: Grim Trashcan

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/03/2017
Label: Independent

This is blackened crust, doomed and stoned at its purest, with angst and despair set to annihilate. Canyon-wide grooves completely assault your senses revealing every trick these sadistic sonic sorcerers have under their fetid robes. This album demands your full fucking sonic attention.

“II” track listing:

1). XI
2). XII
3). XIII
4). XIV

The Review:

Having been completely unfamiliar with this outfit from the UK, I found myself intrinsically digging through any and all online presence of Grey Widow.  Everything I found was like, well- what you might expect from a band who's facebook cover photo contains two key power words: "Annihilation//Amplification". Scrolling down the page, the band took a moment to set the record straight for any followers who may have felt they disappeared like fog mist or perhaps had fallen ill from a venomous sting. 

"After a year of inactivity, depression, solace and apathy, we have risen from the depths of our own human faeces and moulded a sound so heavy and thick it would flatten our meaningless existence on this cursed planet." - Excerpt issued by GW on 2/1/17. 

Four tracks each titled with a Numeral and in this case we find them at "XI". 

"Eleven is one louder" rang through my psyche as I pressed play  and was greeted with the tonal equivalent of lingering bong smoke covering a valley of moonlit shadows until meteoric shards of obsidian and granite pummel to the surface in rhythmic fashion to simultaneously clear away and form new plumes of presence. Everything here sits to set up and serve the song. There is a bright edge to every murky movement. This meticulous building takes place for near 4 minutes until the full force of Grey Widow reveals its callousness and true size. The engineered, meticulous and well-placed facets of this opening track hold steadfast to prove that the production value that Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios brings to the table is a thing of mythic proportions. He could probably make squirrels sound like elephants. The bass tone alone stands right along probably one of the deepest, thundering bass kicks ever recorded. Rhythmically, this band completely assaults you with flippant disregard at trying to ease you into a hypnotic state. They demand your full fucking sonic attention. Imagine getting dragged behind some kind of necromanced tank over a field of ash and bones. Pissed off and plodding. 

Having picked my head up off my table, "XII" takes off almost exactly where "XI" left you. Mid-paced and cruising along for a bit and then dropping down to pound you into submission. When the first verse takes form and the riff presents its fury, you pick up an almost Brainoil kind of vibe, but not completely. The vocals seem sort of stepped back from the overall mix and then the track kinda eases off completely almost to a relaxing point. Like a dragon rising above the clouds to take a break from toasting villagers in fiery breaths of death - this is a brief reprieve until its back down to crushing altitude. No, that's not a typo - fucking crushing altitude.  Clocking in at just shy of 8:30 and the second shortest track of the album, when it ends I actually wanted it to continue for twice as long. 

I think it was a deliberate choice because the organic extension that the next track "XIII" presents is literally the high water mark for this entire affair. Initially a faster paced intro followed by the setting of a canyon-wide groove where everything comes together to basically reveal every trick these sadistic sonic sorcerers have under their fetid robes. This is blackened crust doomed and stoned at its purest. Angst and despair set to annihilate. Layers of complexity which step forward and disappear so naturally it's downright unsettling. There's a presence here that makes me feel like this song has always existed and these Grey Widow blokes are the lucky ones to have communed with its presence and brought it to us in spectacular fashion. I must have re-listened to this particular track at least four or five times before writing this nonsense. 

The bummer side of doing this particular review was the logistical side of things. I received four ultra-top secret locked down Soundcloud links that I had to cue individually rather than just hit play from start to finish. That's the experience I feel this four song affair deserves. The final number finds us at "XIV" and that's where Grey Widow is most accessible sounding. Whatever that means. The shortest song, clocking it at a mere 7:20ish it's got a memorable hook, extended hypnotic riff structure and a slightly more percussive feel at points. By the way, the drums are mixed for lack of a better term "perfectly" for the entirety of this record. They have a depth and warmth that is pretty much a signature statement. The cymbals sound like living breathing entities rather than obnoxious brash significance constituting rhythmic flair and flash. There's deep murky tones and roomy, big ass bass on the stringed side of things but the drumming is in a spectrum of its own design.

This is a solid release and I'm stoked to have the opportunity to listen to it. Fingers crossed and I'll have a physical copy of it on my most preferred format: a tried and true slab of wax. Hat's off to the Grey Widow done turned this doom aficionado into an instant fan based off four behemoth sized songs.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook