Black, brutal, bleak and beautiful…
Released through Aesthetics of Devastation on 30 October 2015 and reviewed by Jason Guest
Late November, from out of nowhere, a message dropped into the MR inbox. “I would like to send to you my CD for review.” Hmm. Okay. Previous experience of such grief e-mails has resulted in albums of such mediocrity – or worse – finding their way to us at MR with the expectation of a glowing review. So, a chance is taken, the CD finds its way from Russia to Birmingham, play is pressed, and at the end of its first run through, it’s clear that of all the extreme metal releases that have been drilled into these ravaged ears this past year (many of which have been covered in these pages), Grey Heaven Fall’s second album Black Wisdom is up there with the best of them.
The discordant riffs, the pummelling drums and the scorched vocal of opener ‘The Lord is Blissful in Grief’ make for a vast and imposing introduction to the band. Intense throughout, the track is relentless and punishing and the band’s capacities for hellish heft is immediately apparent. Near seven minutes of unremitting barbarity, it never tires, never slips, and never fails to hit the palm-borne nails of our failed saviour on the head. At eleven-and-a-half-minutes, ‘Spirit of Oppression’ maintains the intensity and the ferocity of the opening track while introducing the more melodic and atmospheric aspects of the band’s brutal armoury.
Combining dissonance and density with the already heavy and hearty mix, the nine-minute ‘To the Doomed Sons of Earth’ further explores and exploits these traits and sees the band forging ahead into deeper, darker and bleaker soundscapes, the melancholic and the pained moving ever to the fore. The calm tranquillity of atmospheric instrumental ‘Sanctuary of Cut Tongues’ is perfectly shaded and perfectly shaped for the temporary respite it offers before ‘Tranquillity of the Possessed’ slowly summons forth a commanding presence draped in doom-like textures, blackened fire and all the pain, the torment and the suffering that can be wrested from their instruments. Little remains to say about the exquisite 12-minute closing track ‘That Nail in a Heart’ save that the band close out the album with as much force, fire and burning beauty as it began.
What makes this album all the more impressive is that Grey Heavens Fall are a three piece – a drummer, a bassist, and a vocalist/guitarist. Not only are they skilful musicians, but they know each other’s voice and listen to them well. And with lyrics that explore the many questions that the absurdities of Christian ideology provoke, the result is an album much bigger than its constituent parts. Nothing less than a commanding and crushing piece of work, Black Wisdom is an album that, already over a year old, will linger much longer than many of 2016’s extreme releases. An accomplished and astonishing piece of work, take plenty of time to immerse yourself in it. Absorb it. It’s more than worth it.
9 out of 10
- The Lord Is Blissful In Grief
- Spirit Of Oppression
- To the Doomed Sons of Earth
- Sanctuary Of Cut Tongues
- Tranquillity Of The Possessed
- That Nail In A Heart