Deathwhite
Grave Image

I am and will continue to be a massive fan of Deathwhite’s 2018 debut album For A Black Tomorrow. It was an album I didn’t know I needed at the time. Add into this the fact they are listed as from Pittsburgh, PA, which is my local scene, and I became an even bigger fan. All of the members of the band are anonymous, but I swear I’ve heard that voice somewhere before and I can’t place it. Their debut was in my top 5 for 2018, so their new album, Grave Image has some big shoes to fill. I am looking forward to seeing what these hooded menaces have up their blackened sleeves this time.

So, how does it fair? The first track, “Funeral Ground,” plods along, but in a good way. It’s not quite as immediate and gripping as the opening track, “The Grace of the Dark” from For A Black Tomorrow. I can immediately tell this record was going to be a little bit different than what I expected. That’s not necessarily good or bad.

As the album moves forward, I feel like I could mention something I like about every track. The star here is the vocalist, listed as DW, but that is not in any way meant to take away from the rest of this band, who clearly play their instruments very well. With that being said, the vocals will get in your feelings. If they don’t, check your pulse. The vocals themselves are out front, as they should be, but not overtaking the rest of the instrumentation, which is clean, punchy, and modern. The mastering was done by Dan Swano, so that’s no surprise.

The production is perfect for this style of metal. As I listen throughout, I hear so many influences without the album itself being a jumbled mess. When there are multiple reference points, albums frequently tend not to stick. Mostly, I get Novembers Doom, Katatonia, Swallow The Sun, and Woods of Ypres vibes throughout. On “Plague of Virtue,” I hear all of the above in 4:15, but Deathwhitestill makes it their own, with of course, an emotive performance from DW. I can’t help but also hear the bass and am grateful for the presence of that lower end.

You already know the album sounds incredible, but that means nothing if the songs don’t deliver the goods. The final track, “Return to Silence,” is the perfect album closer. In a runtime barely over 6 minutes, I still feel there is an incredible, almost impatient build to the chorus, which doesn’t hit until a little over 2 minutes in. It doesn’t appear again until 3 minutes later to finish off the track, as well as the album. This is a bold and masterful end to the album and makes me want to start the journey all over again.

Grave Image, to me, is doom done right. I’m certain there are many other fine examples of this sub-genre, but as someone who never really got into doom in general until the last couple of years, I know I have missed out on many more (if you have any recommendations, I am happily all ears). I have spent a lot of time with Grave Image and it was well spent. I have purchased a lot of new music recently (and some old), but I keep coming back to Grave Image consistently. Since I first listened, this album gets at least 1 full play per day for me. I listen to it in the morning before my workout, during my workout, on my drive to work, and at work. While time will tell whether it stacks up to what I would call the near perfection of For A Black Tomorrow, what I can say is that it is my record of the year so far. Granted, it is only February as I write this, and the album has only been out for a few weeks. You never know how the list will shape up, but the rest of the metal world has some work to top it, and I am looking forward to seeing if it is possible.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
March 5th, 2020

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