Greyhaven – ‘This Bright And Beautiful World’

By Dave Stewart

At first glance, Greyhaven’s new record ‘This Bright And Beautiful World’ looks like a relatively upbeat, happy outing. Ignore the monochrome balloons and metallic dullness of the cover art, it sounds like it’ll be a nice album based on the title doesn’t it? If you’ve heard of the band before this, you’ll go into the record knowing that’s not what to expect at all. If this is your first Greyhaven experience, though, you’ll quickly find out that the world being painted here is neither bright nor beautiful. Well, not for the band at least.

Somewhat influenced by the events that have completely enveloped all of our day to day lives over the last couple of years, ‘This Bright And Beautiful World’ is an incredibly personal record for vocalist Brent Mills who has poetically unloaded his dealings with depression and the darkness that surrounds it. The often chaotic nature of the band’s music provides a perfect backdrop for the internal bedlam of his mind and soul, but the real magic comes in the moments of reflection where he takes a step back to look at everything around him. Spoiler alert; what he sees isn’t particularly heartwarming.

Album opener ‘In A Room Where Everything Dies’ plunges you straight into a gloomy monochromatic landscape, with a flurry of dissonant strikes, weighty chugs and Mills’ pained screams flying towards your ears from every angle. Mosh lovers will lose their minds when a certain riff kicks in – you’ll know which one I mean when you hear it – and those experiencing the band for the first time just might jump out of their skin. This doesn’t set up what to expect from the rest of the album as such, but it perfectly sets the scene for the world it takes place in.

There are plenty of opportunities to revel in the aggressive side of their sound, and every moment is sublime. ‘A Painful And Necessary Action’ is full of technical and ballsy riff work and a hook that will work its way into your brain before you’ve even realised it’s buried there. ‘Of Snakes And Swans’ is an all out filth-fest, with ground-shaking stomps, subtle southern flavours and absolutely devastating guitar-work from Nick Spencer rattling your skull.

There’s the full-throttle rage gushing from ‘Foreign Anchor’, the bewildering and unhinged ‘The Quiet Shakes’, the intense white knuckle ride of ‘More And More Hands’ and countless other adrenaline surging moments on offer here. For those that came here for a heavy and hectic fix, you’ll be happy, but (and it’s an important but) there’s so much more to this album. Where their previous record ‘Empty Black’ hinted at the band’s desire to move beyond unrelenting and frantic hardcore into more progressive and expansive territory, this album fully leans into it.

‘All Candy’ is possibly the most melodic song in their catalogue, smoothy swaying through a haunting soundscape whilst Mills looks at his depression like a ghost that follows him around, crooning the hopeful words “you’ll never see the light again, not that way.” ‘Fed To The Lights’ effortlessly treads the fine line between delicate and destructive, moving from meditative melodic passages to guitar-stacked punishment like a master trapeze artist. Album closer ‘Ornaments From The Well’ steals the show though and is a beautiful way to end the album, and it’s so moving. The sadness that’s being unloaded throughout the record is still there at the end, and to experience this record and not see the turmoil resolve it really soul-stirring. Misery and defeat isn’t the what Greyhaven want you to take from the album, though…

This album is utterly devastating, wildly chaotic and dreamily breathtaking in equal measure, and to say it makes for a varied listening experience doesn’t really do it justice. The feelings that bubble to the surface over the record’s 35 minutes, in Mills’ words, stem from “someone who is really frustrated at how they operate in the world”, and that’s something that I think we’ve all felt in some form in our lives. The narrative passes around the various masks of depression in such a way that doesn’t leave you feeling completely deflated, but full of gratitude and joy for what you have around you, and to be able to take that away from an album this dark seriously impressive.

Overall, this record is a real gem. The music is punishing and serene in all the right moments, the often bleak song topics truly resonating with your soul and the music helping those vibrations sink right down to your core. You’ll find yourself buzzing along with the darkness that’s embedded within the album, and discovering the bright and beautiful light for yourself.

Do you miss The Dillinger Escape Plan? Every Time I Die maybe? Do you love hard and heavy, yet thoughtful and emotional music? Welcome to your new favourite band. This is the beginning of something magical.

DAVE STEWART

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