A lot of metalcore nowadays is all about how hard you can hit a breakdown. The sound of open stringed chugging has dominated the genre for almost a decade now, becoming the defining aspect of a genre that only every so often produces something genuinely exciting. There are some artists pushing back, however, easing off the breakdown pedal and incorporating elements from other genres, and often dubbed as “progressive” within the confines of metalcore. This is where Kentucky’s Greyhaven sits with their sophomore record, ‘Empty Black’.
This album is chaos in a leather jacket. Fans of Every Time I Die will feel at home with ‘Empty Black’, as the southern-metal inspired riffs and vocal melodies hit with crushing ferocity on opening track ‘Sweet Machine’. The song sets a precedent, with its frantic verses and sweeping choruses that dominate every subsequent track.
A few moments on ‘Empty Black’ seek to calm the madness, with the intro to ‘Echos and Dust Pt.1’ and the intriguing blend of alt- and hard-rock on ‘Day Is Gone’ providing some breathing room. It’s these instances, as well as the big choruses, that prop the album up so well, preventing it from blurring into one huge mess.
The energy is never too far away though, with songs such as ‘Kappa (River Child)’ ramping everything up to eleven in its final quarter. In amongst the dense instrumentation, there’s always something inventive and unique, however. ‘Broadcast Network’ utilises a guitar tone in its first twenty seconds that conjures images of power tools and buzz saws, while closer ‘Echos and Dust Pt. 2’ binds everything together with sludgy grooves and atmospheric build-ups.
What all of this serves to create, from the walls of noise to the spacious choruses and the bourbon-glugging riffs, is an addictive album that can be spun twenty times a day and still leave you with a sore neck and a smile on your face. On ‘Empty Black’, Greyhaven prove how exciting metalcore can still be.
‘Empty Black’ by Greyhaven is released on 16th March on Equal Vision Records/Graphic Nature.
Words by Ben Mills (@BenMills28)