Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Grey Host - Dawn For Vultures (album review)

Artwork by John "Stormcrow" Sebastian (guitar/vocals)
Grey Host come form that formerly great and bustling metropolis Cincinnati but sound as though they have emerged from some Cimmerian bog, hands tied, face down, having been left for dead, left for Set, axe wound to the skull, but still unstoppable, only made stronger by the experience, an experience that has left its mark, not only in the form of a gnarly scar along the ridge of the Grey Host's head, but, a mark that manifests itself in the form of atmospheric brooding.  For the Grey Host will seek his revenge.  And, lo!  There shall come a time of reckoning.  Restoration of honor becomes his obsession.  He stalks the mist shrouded peaks of Hyperborea, brooding in contemplation, seething in anger, finding resolve.  If you don't believe me, just listen to "The Shaman".  (And for the record, I know what a host is but prefer to personify my records in the form of an individual, okay!  Of course, there are multiple meanings to the word 'host' and maybe my interpretation of the name implies an individual who is host to some form of grey demon, creature, parasite or in this case is host to a seething lust for recompense.)

Anyway, that's what it comes down to here.  Tough as nails doom, filthy vocals and sludgy drone, which paints pictures of ravaged landscapes, to create a style all their own.  This is Grey Host's signature, Doom n' drone.  When I say drone here, I'm talking about the understated instrumental passages the band lace carefully throughout the disc.  The sludge comes here in the form of dust caked in the corners of eyes in a parched expanse, the swamp is but a memory, a lifetime away.  Grey Host fleck off riffs like dry, cracked skin, peeling long strips off in an instrumental direction.  Barely audible keyboard drone makes all the difference in the world here, lending the music the sound of a howling wind sweeping across the desert plain.  Again, it's not something you would automatically notice, but it's there, more felt, more subconsciously absorbed, than heard, let alone enjoyed.

Another intrinsic factor to the Grey Host experience is the pace.  Grey Host keep it slow and lumbering, stooped, massive shoulders with arms that terminate in axes which weigh far heavier than the price of a man's soul.  The band doesn't bust out into a trot or charge through tracks at a galloping pace.  They stalk their prey like a sinewy panther, muscles tensed like oiled chords rippling beneath bronzed and sun parched skin (I'm paraphrasing Robert E. Howard here from memory because that's what Grey Host does to me).  Actually, it's hard to call the music strictly slow.  It is at times, but mostly it's kept to the tempo of a brisk walk, or slow march.  Notes are steeped in remorse, sorrow and haunted by the memory of acts it sometimes takes for a body to survive a hard driven life.

Photo by Greg Lutz
Grey Host inhabit a land of giants, wizards and warriors.  It's an impressive debut, the six songs on the album create a run on effect with each track kicking at the rubble of the previous track to start the avalanche of the next one.  For nearly an hour the band smashes heads in, then broods about the next attack.  Rarely does the Grey Host experience regret, but on closing track "Dawn for Vultures" there's a bone weariness to go along with a slightly western feel, the development of which begins slowly in the second half of the preceding track, "Bonemother".  See how the tracks run into one another, develop and roll through each other?  'Dawn For Vultures' is sure to satisfy the doom, sludge and drone crowds, taking an experimental approach while still remaining accessible.  The band still has shirts and CDs available through their bandcamp page too, so check it out by following the links on the player below and snatch it all up before it's gone.  I got my CD in the mail already and it's a nice looking package with an especially cool drawing in red ink on the inside of the gatefold.  Peep it here.

Highlights include: "The Shaman" and "Bonemother"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 54:30

John Sebastian - Guitars/Vocals
Jason Nix - Guitars
Zac Schmidt - Drums
Evan Roberts - Organ

From: Cincinnati, Ohio

Genre: Doom, Sludge, Drone

Reminds me of: Conan, Kröwnn

Release Date: March 30, 2013

Suggested Listening Activity for Fellow Non-Stoners: This is music for a Hyborian war party, traveling by caravan through a desert plain.

Better Reviews:
The Sludgelord

Grey Host facebook

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