Release: Empty Black
Area: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Date of release: 16th March 2018
Genre: Southern Hardcore
Reviewer: Aaron van Akker
For Fans Of: Every Time I Die, Barebones
Next Gig: Currently Touring in support of Norma Jean on the “Redeemer Tour” all over the USA
"Painted in ash all the words that you said as you walked away Loosely fading ghosts to take our place If I could suspend time all together Would you stay up here forever?" - Day Is Gone
I’m going to start this off by saying I have not been this excited to hear a release in a long time. Greyhaven are a four piece, they are what I would call a southern hardcore outfit from Louisville, Kentucky, USA. These guys fucking shred. Their debut album “Cult America” was released in May of 2014 and certainly made people stand up and take notice, the sound was intense in your face and unrelenting giving the boys a cult following all over the globe. Since then Greyhaven have signed to Graphic Nature/Equal Vision Records, and have buckled down to send into the world their heavily anticipated sophomore release “Empty Black” and let me tell you, it’s a fucking banger.
“Empty Black” takes the hectic song styles of “Cult America” and refines it, maturing the sound without losing the intensity and vision of the band. To create an album that will stand the test of time and for fans of the genre will be on repeat long into the future because this album “Empty Black” covers all the bases. 10 tracks, 36.21 minute runtime will ensure this will be one of your new favourite albums to let out your pent up aggression to.
'Sweet Machine' opens the album strong after a small ambient intro is broken by the vocals of Brent Mills accompanied by the thrashing guitar work of Nick Spencer. the lyrical content of this track sets the tone for the whole album, painting the picture of what’s going on in America at the moment with so many people losing family members in wars, so many horrific school shootings but still nothing being done about weapons laws, but at least the people at the top are being payed and can look good while they feed you lies to justify why what they are doing is right. The way that a message like that can be passed across and still have the ability to make you want to move and dance is just one of the reasons I think that “Empty Black” and Greyhaven in general will stand the test of time.
The second track 'Blemish' really showcases the musical talent of the entire band, with moments of chaos surrounding more slow and steady rock sections, it really shows how well the band can work together to create a solid roller coaster of a song. Ethan Spray’s drum work in this track is insane, with pulsing chorus work complimenting perfectly while throwing some insane fills in the more hardcore intro and verses, accompanied by Johnny Muench’s frantic bass work and Nick Spencer’s hectic fret work on guitar not to mention the vocal range not only in notes but style from Brent Mills this track really captures what I think is the Greyhaven style and I love it.
The lead single from the album, 'Echo and Dust, Pt.I' seems to be one of the more calm songs on the album, but that is not to say it has any less of an impact at all, more rock based than some of the other tracks of 'Empty Black' it almost works as an opportunity to take a breath and take in what’s happened so far in the album before it attacks you with more fast paced riffs and heavier content. The southern rock influence shines through in this bad boy while holding an almost ballad like quality with the vocal style in the chorus and some parts of the verses. Closing out with a slow almost beat down like exit. I feel like if people haven’t heard of this band before and only searched the lead single they might be surprised by the rest of the album, but then again it might work as a good little intro into the band to limber people up before full on assaulting the listeners ears.
'Day Is Gone' is another one of those tracks on the album that really show cases the writing ability of this Kentucky Quartet. With a more melodic soaring vocal style though the chorus and some more laid back almost eerie guitar work to push the lyrical content to the forefront of the track. It seems to be a more heartfelt intense track which seems to paint the picture of losing some one because of substance abuse and the feelings involved in something like that happening.
Over all “Empty Black” is a fast paced, in your face, southern hardcore gem. Not only do the boys in Greyhaven deliver a killer album but a message to go with it. In a world with so many negative things happening around us, it’s easy to fell down and for it all to be quite overwhelming, but it’s important to harness that anger, that aggression and direct it into something creative and uplifting, not destructive. I highly suggest everyone get around this band and suss all work available you will thank me later.
Support your local artists, support your local scene. Without you it wouldn’t exist.
Songwriting Integrity: 9/10
Personal Enjoyment: 9.5/10