Recorded, mixed and mastered at Colossus Audio Productions, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Released Friday 1 December 2022.
For fans of Dark Fortress, Opeth, Carcass.
Canadian progressive death metal band Greybeard return with their second full-length album, Dark Age.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say. The same can be said for albums. When I first listened to Greybeard’s latest release, I thought I knew what I was going to get. It said progressive, black, death metal on the proverbial tin. The cover shows an atmospheric outdoor scene with a scratchy font album title. Of course, it’s going to be a wall of thinly produced noise, barked vocals and percussion that sounds some someone rattling a bag of cutlery. I couldn’t be more wrong.
The album opens with the barrage that is “Boreal decimation” (track 1). A deep, solid force of blast beats, guitars and throaty lyrics. It’s not long before the vocals are paired with soaring female voice which lifts the song to new levels.
“Light from 1,000 stars” (track 2) puts me immediately in mind of a doomtastic Candlemass riff, it is slow and melancholic, and provides the foundation for the song. About halfway the song breaks down into an Annihilator-esque passage: a pleasing arpeggio chord progression with a majestic guitar solo over the top.
“Barren” (track 3) features one of the best riffs of the whole album and a wonderful dynamic arc that segues it beautifully into, ironically, the barren-sounding “Vultures” (track 4) which quickly shakes off the ice and settles into a galloping rhythm. As with previous songs, the guitar work sounds effortless and cuts sharply and deeply through the mayhem.
Slower number, “Beneath” (track 5) opens with the sound of waves beneath a cleanly picked guitar that morphs into a beautifully gentle ballad with clean female vocals that trades verses with a harsher-sounding male voice. It provides a welcome change of dynamic and timbre allowing the album to breathe.
After that beautiful hiatus, it’s business as usual with “Terra umbra” (track 6), a rattle-y number that bounces off the shards of various riffs. The middle of the song is particularly pleasing as it seamlessly switches from one idea to the next as it heads for the exit.
“1,000 years of night” (track 7) is a start-stop kind of song that provides a vehicle for soaring guitar licks and unexpected quiet, picked passages. Just when you are about to dismiss this song as an end-of-album filler, it twists and takes you in another direction. Wonderful stuff!
Like the opener, “Hall of the gods” (track 8) races off the blocks with a furious tempo only to come crashing down as the vocals fall over the opening lyrics. It all sounds so smooth and effortless.
“Dark age” (track 9) closes the album with a mysterious-sounding chord progression that certainly piques the interest. Just when you thought you knew what was about to come, Greybeard twist the plot further and take us in a completely different direction once again. This has come to be one of my favourite tracks on the album.
At times Greybeard’s music is as desolate as the frozen, northern landscape from which they hail. Blending elements of death metal, black metal and progressive metal, while you may hear elements of other influences, they have certainly forged a sound that is their own. And it is a glorious one.
Review score: 95%
MDPR contacted me inviting me to preview Greybeard forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either MDPR or Greybeard. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Zach from MDPR, and to Greybeard for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.