As the year changed from one to the next I was excited by what was to come, gobbling up each new song that I had the time for. In the process of checking my usual sources, I came across “The Grace Of The Dark” by a band that was unknown to me, Deathwhite. It was the first song in the new year to make me giddy with anticipation for more. This is the first LP by the band after their EPs, Ethereal and Solitary Martyr, turned heads a few years ago. At long last their full-length debut, For A Black Tomorrow, will be released on February 23rd through Season Of Mist. Let’s see if my anticipation was warranted.
The song that made me fall in love with the Deathwhite sound, “The Grace Of The Dark”, is the first in the tracklist and is a genuine template for how the rest of the album is going to sound. It’s melodic, slightly gothic (not goth), and spacious. There is also a focus on harmony throughout the song that is consistent with subsequent tracks. Given the recipe that I have described, it’s odd but refreshing that the vocals aren’t buried beneath an assortment of effects and reverb. This is very apparent on the track “Contrition.” The vocalist is at the top of their range, and the strain really does come through. While this could be off-putting to some, I find it an interesting way to ground the otherwise polished production of the instrumentation.
After a fast start, things slow a bit with “Poisoned.” It’s a bit more plodding and it was one of the songs that I found a little more forgettable than the others around it. There are some nice moments, as the twin and harmonized guitar solos compliment the harmony of the vocals, but the hooks aren’t quite as effective overall. The next two songs sort of follow the same formula – they’re solid, but don’t generate the same excitement as earlier tracks. It’s my opinion that these numbers just lack some of the diversity and dynamics that make a song memorable to me. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long until my wish for barbed hooks and punchy transitions came storming back.
“Dreaming The Inverse” is the second song I heard from the album, as it was released as a single with a video ahead of the street date. It’s a punchy track that really sells the emotions, with the vocals evoking shades of both Serj Tankian and People In Planes. It’s one of the best songs on For A Black Tomorrow and shouldn’t be missed, even if you don’t pick up the album.
The last two tracks are also great in their own right. “Death And The Master” starts off with a nice slow rolling guitar, then transitions into an almost folk movement with a few major chord shifts. But it doesn’t take long for it to progress into one of the most aggressive compositions to be found here. Wrapping up the album is the title track, which is just a little over four minutes long. It’s a chug-driven guitar tune that keeps the theme of harmony and melancholy alive until the very end. It’s a proper send off.
I have to say that in the end, this isn’t the record I was hoping it to be. Some songs tend to fall a little flat and they come and go without really leaving an impact. The ones that do hit home really do stand out with a sound that isn’t somehow too familiar. If you’re looking for something new to spin, I recommend giving this album a try. The performances are good all around and the mood of the album is palpable from beginning to end; it’s dark, melodic, and emotional. Simply put, this is a cool album and one that deserves a spot in your library; just don’t expect something entirely new.
Notable Tracks: “The Grace of the Dark”; “Dreaming The Inverse”; “Death And The Master”
FFO: HIM, (recent) Katatonia, My Dying Bride