Grave Image
Released 31 Jan 2020
7.25
Clean vocals

Deathwhite – Grave Image: A solid foundation for hopefully more imagination in the future.

There's not much of an intro I can give into Deathwhite, me know nothing. Yes, that's correct, this band is completely anonymous. Not that I usually care about names, but it could come in handy to give the occasional praise.

Grave Image is the follow-up to Deathwhite's debut album For a Black Tomorrow. Nothing so far should indicate we're talking about a happy lovey-dovey album here. However, contrary to how bleak the theme of their music is, that theme doesn't necessarily translate to the style of the album. What Deathwhite puts forth here, is in fact a very accessible album.

From the first notes of ‘Funeral Ground’ you get a feel for what atmosphere they are trying to create here. It starts with this gritty guitar intro. Moments later that very warm, beautiful chanting comes in. They got my attention now. At exactly 1 minute in, they demonstrate they are more than capable of writing that umpfh-riff. This should make you excited for what's to come. And the vocals. The vocals are just so good. The drum is punchy. So beautiful. Sometimes the vocalist comes in with this deep growl to keep you on your toes. A very dark and dreamy, yet groovy, opener. At this point I'm very excited to see where we go next.

"In Eclipse" doesn't waste any time, we're staying in this dark and cold place. Luckily we have those soothing vocals to accompany us. This is heavy, but the melody makes this extremely digestible. For some reason I imagine fans of Kyuss being able to appreciate this sound. Or even fans of Alice in Chains? It might be blasphemy to say I hear some grunge in there, but I really do. The next song solidifies this point. ‘Further from Salvation’ continues on the path of the dreamy and melodic. The vocals are still amazing. This track reminds me of some Elder or Pallbearer at moments, but what do I know? Dare I say I hear some Aaron Lewis in those vocals?

I'm not painting a clear picture of what this album is at this point. I've mentioned Kyuss, Alice in Chains, Elder and Pallbearer. But, it is Deathwhite. It's almost unbelievable that a style, so basic, has no direct comparisons. They do make it sound so natural. The vocals especially are what makes this statement true. So far, I'm enjoying this.

The fifth track ‘Among Us’, is where I start to think about the first track and how much more that grabbed me. I feel like they are a bit lost here. Or they lost me. Where's that heavy groove? And just in time, they hit me with a mastodont of a riff. And then we get that beautiful voice again. Okay, I'm still on board. Overall this was still a bit of an annoying song, like they couldn't decide which style to embrace and ended up with this so-so in between. I feel like they need to come up with something fresh next.

Unfortunately, the next track ‘Words of Dead Men’ gives me the same feeling. It sounds dragged out and boring. Glad there is the guitar to spice things up again. I hear influences from Katatonia and Opeth, but I'd rather listen to one of these two.

No Horizon’ is a stronger track again, here everything comes together. Again, the vocals are deeply beautiful. The guitar and drumming are absolute brutal forces you just can't get past without bobbing your head. On tracks like these I feel like they embrace who they are. Going into the next track I feel re-energized. I'm very focused on the music again.

Plague of Virtue’ is, again, a very dreamy track. I do feel like I heard this one before on this album. It starts to kind of blend together a little bit. I really think their style would benefit from a bit more of a progressive sound, with more wacky, out-of-the-box ideas. This is too bare-bones for my tastes. It's just too safe. ‘A Servant’ has more of this. Yes, there is some excellent musicianship here. But by now I need something fresh to keep me invested. I miss the deep growl from the first track.

When I almost decided how I feel about this album, the last track throws me of guard with the beautiful melody of the chorus. Here they grab me yet again. Multiple layers come into play and create this dark atmosphere that I wish was everywhere on this album. And then it ends.

Deathwhite have a contradicting album on their hands with Grave Image. When they shine, you get blown away. When however they do not, it gets bland really fast. I will certainly return to this album, because I have the feeling this might be a grower. But for now I'm mostly looking forward to the follow up of this album, where they hopefully try to break their mold and explore more creative ideas. This band has everything you want in a band, all they have to do is forge it into amazing shape and add more variation and experimentation.