Deathwhite, Grave Image: Funereal Portraits

Posted in Reviews on January 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite grave image

Pittsburgh robe-clad four-piece Deathwhite have heretofore managed to keep their identities secret. A few initials have floated around — DW, AM, LM, and so on — but after forming in 2012 and issuing two independent EPs in 2014’s Ethereal and 2015’s Solitary Martyr, then signing to Season of Mist ahead of their 2018 debut album, For a Black Tomorrow (review here), the fact that they’ve managed to hold actual names back from public consciousness is fairly impressive in a day and age where immediate access is the norm. One suspects, listening to Grave Image, the all-the-more-accomplished follow-up to For a Black Tomorrow, that Deathwhite as a collective view this as an aesthetic choice.

That is, it’s not necessarily a choice made to drum up a faux-rocker mystique so much as an extension of their sound and general presentation. This makes the fact that their material on songs like “Further From Salvation” and “A Servant” is so emotive and personal-seeming something of an irony, but perhaps this too is the idea. Their anonymity forces the listener to focus not on individual players or elements, but on the entirety of their craft, which is deep, purposeful and a cross achievement in style and substance, bringing the emotional severity of European-style death-doom to the fore with an ever-present sense of melody that refuses to lose its grip.

In the early “In Eclipse” as well as the title-track a short time later, one is reminded of mid-period Katatonia or My Dying Bride, or even the odd-Americans-out in Novembers Doom — the specific moment when that league of bands gave up largely gave up guttural death growls but still had an audience expecting them. Some from-the-ether whispers in the verses of the otherwise gorgeous “In Eclipse” are about as close as Deathwhite comes to abrasive vocals — and that’s probably close enough to scare off the squares — but like the decision to hold back their names, the restraint they show in not breaking out in roars across the weighted sprawl and midpoint breakdown intensity, albeit fleeting, of “Among Us” or the subsequent chugs of “Words of Dead Men” are emblematic of the sense of mission behind Grave Image overall. Deathwhite have a bleak vision and Grave Image is the latest and to-date most vivid incarnation of it.

They are by no means the first to marry beauty and darkness in metal, but what stands out in Grave Image even in relation to its predecessor is the factor of songwriting. Deathwhite have managed the feat of making atmosphere and expressiveness work in conjunction with memorable, dare-one-say catchy, material. Their choruses are stuck-in-the-head fodder for later revisits, and though of course there’s a contemplative feeling to the style as would be demanded in the first place by the tenets of genre, the one does not detract from the other.

Rather, from the outset of “Funeral Ground,” “In Eclipse” and “Further From Salvation,” Deathwhite never lose sight of the fact that they’re playing songs, writing songs, in a traditional style. Their arrangements are by no means lacking complexity or dumbed down in order to be more broadly accessible — it would be incorrect to say otherwise — but they are engaging their audience in these tracks one way or another, and that feeds into rather than pulls back from their overarching purpose and intent with Grave Image. A fine line trod skillfully and surely.

deathwhite

“Grave Image” itself and “Among Us” would seem to be the final pieces of the first vinyl side, which puts “Words of Dead Men” as an impact-laced side B opener, but even the 48-minute runtime of the proceedings speaks to the workings of a different era, not the classic LP form that’s dominated so much of underground music, but the linear presentation of compact discs in the 1990s, and sure enough, Grave Image is best taken in this manner — front to back without even a break in the middle for a side flip. To pretend most who take it on won’t be doing so digitally is folly anyhow, but that works to Deathwhite‘s advantage as the second half of Grave Image progresses, pushing deeper into the open-feeling stretches and quiet/loud trades and lyrical pleading, “open up my eyes” of “No Horizon” and comparative rush at the outset and later keyboard-choral bridge of “Plague of Virtue.” Is it wrong to hope Deathwhite‘s third album incorporates strings somewhere in its proceedings?  If it is, I don’t want to be right.

The longing is palpable in “A Servant” but not overwrought in a dramatic sense, and amid a wash of guitar and understated percussive accomplishment, the penultimate of the total 10 tracks presents a bookend with the highlight opening salvo that began the record, with six-and-a-half-minute finale “Return to Silence” following suit, taking instrumentally soft-edged verses, guitar that’s outright pretty, and setting it/them against more intense bursts in the chorus, “Return to silence/Return to dust/Return to stillness/Return to us.”

A final, cold dropoff is sudden when it arrives, but beautiful, and of course it seems all the more appropriate that “Return to Silence” should close Grave Image, since the song itself leads to the silence at the end of the album, which also becomes an encompassing factor in play for Deathwhite, as well as indicative of their engrossing, multifaceted attention to detail. It is that, ultimately, which allows them to deliver the songs as fluidly as they do, but it’s worth noting that the behind-the-scenes work and thought so clearly put into Grave Image does not at all pull focus away from the songwriting itself, which I’ll reiterate is among the album’s greatest strengths, along with its melodic delivery, aesthetic awareness and willingness to bring its audience into its sphere via craft.

As Deathwhite make the conventions of style function to their own ends throughout Grave Image, it is easy to lose sight of the achievement if only because of the resonance of the material is so affecting emotionally, but that in itself is a triumph of the intent behind its construction. Dark in spirit, Grave Image nonetheless soars, and its success in doing so is a testament to Deathwhite‘s driving vision. Whoever they are, they’ve created something special.

Deathwhite, Grave Image (2020)

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Deathwhite Post “Funeral Ground” Video From New Album Grave Image

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite

I have been spending some significant time with Deathwhite‘s second long-player, Grave Image, since hosting the premiere of the first single from it last month. That song was “Further From Salvation” (posted here) and proved to be a deceptively catchy grim joy of darkened melodicism, taking cues from death-doom instrumentally while refusing to give itself over entirely to that breed of the sonically extreme. The just-under-five-minute “Funeral Ground” is the album opener and follows a similar atmospheric course while serving the dual purpose of leading the listener along the vine-covered path that runs deeper into the record itself. There are some growl-ish backing vocals in a call and response in the chorus of “Funeral Ground,” but that’s about as far as Grave Image goes in that direction, which is consistent as well with 2017’s For a Black Tomorrow (review here). Gracefully, it captures that spirit regardless.

Very purposefully, I’m not listening to Grave Image as I write this post, since I want to give the album a proper review sometimes before its Jan. 31 release through Season of Mist. But thus far, it has become my winter’s soundtrack, suiting well these grey days and the rain that would formerly be snow, somehow all the more mournful given the context of that change in temperature. It’s not as cold as it used to be in December, but it’s no less dark, figuratively or literally. Though it’s still more than a month to go before it comes out, Grave Image is suiting that mood well.

See? There I am writing about the album and it’s not even on. Sometimes it’s hard to stop myself.

The “Funeral Ground” video was filmed alternately it would seem in the woods of Pennsylvania and somewhere in the vicinity of a fog machine. Both fair enough, as far as locales go. You’ll find the clip below, followed by more background and the album preorder link, courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Deathwhite, “Funeral Ground” official video

Enigmatic dark metal collective DEATHWHITE premiere the morbid music video for their brand new song, “Funeral Ground.” The track is taken from the band’s upcoming full-length, ‘Grave Image,’ which is due on January 31, 2020.

DEATHWHITE comments: “We were quite elated upon seeing Jérôme Comentale’s cover art design for ‘Grave Image.’ With that mind, we wanted to find some way to tie it into a video, which we did for “Funeral Ground”. It is not obvious at first, but, rest assured, it is there. We had the good fortune of shooting during a brisk autumn day in the natural outdoors, something that we feel only added to the song’s overall atmosphere, which treads some new – no pun intended – ground for us. Due credit to our resident jack-of-all-trades Shane Mayer, who lent his considerable time and energy to the video’s creation.”

‘Grave Image’ can be pre-ordered in various formats HERE.

‘Grave Image’ Track List:
1. Funeral Ground (05:05)
2. In Eclipse (04:46)
3. Further from Salvation (04:56)
4. Grave Image (04:50)
5. Among Us (04:11)
6. Words of Dead Men (03:56)
7. No Horizon (05:29)
8. Plague of Virtue (04:14)
9. A Servant (04:43)
10. Return to Silence (06:38)
Total Length: 48:48

Line-up: The band does not provide line-up information.

Deathwhite, “Further from Salvation”

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Deathwhite Premiere “Further From Salvation”; Grave Image out Jan. 31 on Season of Mist

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but winter is coming. As I sit and write this in the middle of the pre-dawn night, it’s single-digits cold in what’s been hyperbolized as an Arctic deathfreeze or some such. The moon is full through the trees outside my window and the wind sounds biting and harsh even from the delusional comfort of indoors. It is going to be a long, dark several months ahead, and the melancholia of Deathwhite would seem to be ready for it. Following up their debut, For a Black Tomorrow (review here) — independently issued in 2017 and picked up early last year by Season of Mist — the anonymous Pittsburgh-based outfit will offer the bleak emotionalism of their second long-player, Grave Image, on Jan. 31, 2020.

“Further from Salvation” is the first audio to come from Grave Image, and despite the grimness of its atmosphere, I’m thrilled to host the premiere of it. With recording done in Pittsburgh and Florida and mastering in Sweden, it represents a range deathwhite grave imageof histories from the unheralded Midwestern death-doom pioneering of Novembers Doom to the Sunshine State’s sonic extremity — something that comes through in the drumming here as well — and of course the European legacy of depressive melodic heaviness, as expressed through bands like KatatoniaParadise LostAnathema and My Dying Bride. This sense of drama can be felt in “Further from Salvation” in the whispered vocals of the verse and the morose theme being conveyed, the loss of one’s name, the pursuit of knowledge under penalty of death, and as they did on their debut, Deathwhite bring it forth on “Further from Salvation” with conviction and aesthetic loyalty that is as genuine in its identity as in its homage.

I’ve yet to hear the entirety of Grave Image, but the band speaks to an added sense of severity in their presentation, and I think that is apparent in this track, which is one of a total 10 on the album, the stark and frigid artwork for which could hardly be more suited to the swaying and sad melodycraft and the sense of longing being conveyed.

Rather than prattle on, I’ll turn you over to the song itself and let the copious PR wire background do the rest of the talking while I listen through again and wait for the sun to come up, which it will sooner or later despite the current encompassing darkness.

Grave Image preorders are here: https://smarturl.it/DeathwhiteGraveImage

Enjoy the track:

Deathwhite, “Further from Salvation” official track premiere

Deathwhite on “Further from Salvation”:

“‘Further from Salvation’ was the first song we wrote for ‘Grave Image.’ It gave us the confidence and direction to move forward in a similar direction for the rest of the album, whereby we decided to place more emphasis on heaviness and melody. ‘Further from Salvation’ is also unique for its drum break in the middle portion of the song, something we are imminently proud of. The song itself is reflective of the regular back-and-forth of the human psyche, where inner peace and turmoil is sometimes a mirage of one’s own doing. There is, of course, no parallel to peace of mind, as difficult as it is to achieve.”

The fallible nature of mankind is reflected through its actions and words. Once an absolute, truth is now fluid, twisted and contorted to suit the often-short-sighted needs of those who now suffer the indignation of willful ignorance. Paired with the stench of hypocrisy and unrelenting depletion of the earth’s resources, and the state of the world could not appear graver. It is under this grey cloud that enigmatic dark metal collective DEATHWHITE created their second full-length studio album, Grave Image.

Grave Image was recorded during April and May 2019 at Cerebral Audio Productions with producer/engineer Shane Mayer; vocal tracking took place at Erik Rutan’s (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel) Mana Recording under the supervision of engineer Art Paiz. The album was mastered by the incomparable Dan Swanö (Bloodbath, Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) at Unisound, and, as with the band’s previous two efforts, the artwork and design were handled by Jérôme Comentale, whose visuals are crucial to DEATHWHITE’s overall aesthetic.

Written over the span of 18 months, Grave Image is a largely heavier and more orchestrated body of work than its 2018 For a Black Tomorrow predecessor. The album is driven by clean, emotive vocals, an increasingly rare commodity in a metal scene so committed to harsher styles of singing. This embrace and execution of such vocals are one of the defining traits of the ten songs found therein, which also offer a wall of guitars flanked by a constant stream of melodies, the direct result of the band adding a second guitarist in 2018.

Since its 2012 formation, DEATHWHITE has remained committed to playing dark metal while remaining anonymous. The band is the utter representation of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” adage — its members are from disparate backgrounds and are once again spread out across the United States. However, DEATHWHITE remains a vehicle for its members to create new music and convey their unflinching sense of despair as the human race continues its rapid descent to the bottom.

“We consider ourselves to be quite privileged to have DEATHWHITE in our lives,” concludes the band. “With that in mind, Grave Image represents the months of hard work that went into its creation. It is our hope it will resonate long after we’ve outlived our usefulness. If nothing else, we hope it will find a home with those who share a similar frame of mind as us.”

‘Grave Image’ Track List:
1. Funeral Ground (05:05)
2. In Eclipse (04:46)
3. Further from Salvation (04:56)
4. Grave Image (04:50)
5. Among Us (04:11)
6. Words of Dead Men (03:56)
7. No Horizon (05:29)
8. Plague of Virtue (04:14)
9. A Servant (04:43)
10. Return to Silence (06:38)
Total Length: 48:48

Line-up: The band does not provide line-up information.

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Deathwhite Begin Recording New Album Grave Image

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite

Now a four-piece, Pittsburgh melodic doom metallers Deathwhite have announced they’ve begun recording their second album, to be titled Grave Image and released through Season of Mist. The same imprint stood behind their early-2018 debut, For a Black Tomorrow (review here), which offered an American interpretation of the kind of emotive doom proffered by the likes of Katatonia or Alternative 4-era Anathema. It was a full-length that I think flew under a lot of people’s radar, but as a fan of the style was something that hit a chord with me, and I’ll look forward to hearing what they come out with having returned to Cerebral Audio Productions to lay down the instrumental tracks while vocals will be done at Mana Recording in Tampa, Florida. Nice vacation, and I wonder if that means Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) will be at the helm. Could be interesting.

The band made the announcement of work being done in short and sweet fashion via a social media post. I’ve also included the stream of the first LP below in case you’d like a refresher.

Have at it:

deathwhite cheat sheet

DEATHWHITE Enters Studio To Record New Album, ‘Grave Image’

It is with great pleasure to share we are currently in the throes of recording our second full-length album, “Grave Image.” The album will be released in the not-terribly-distant future via Season of Mist.

Cerebral Audio Productions’ Shane Mayer is once again overseeing the sessions; vocals will be tracked at Mana Recording in Tampa, Florida. And, much to our delight, the esteemed Dan Swano will handle mastering.

We are now a quartet, having added a second guitar player. Such an addition, along with new twists and turns in the songwriting process, make “Grave Image” an effort we are imminently proud of. We look forward to sharing more details as matters unfold. Until then…

http://www.facebook.com/deathwhiteofficial
https://deathwhite.bandcamp.com/
http://deathwhite.com/
http://www.season-of-mist.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial/

Deathwhite, For a Black Tomorrow (2018)

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