Greyhaven: ‘This Bright and Beautiful World’ Review
‘This Bright and Beautiful World’ is the newly released, third album from Kentucky 4-piece, Greyhaven. Their 2018 album ‘Empty Black’ quickly became a favorite of mine, with its mixture of chaotic and melodic passages. Its blend of metalcore, prog, and post-hardcore kept me coming back, and made whatever Greyhaven released next a must-listen for me. Four years later and they have not disappointed.
Starting things off is ‘In a Room Where Everything Dies’. On a first listen, this track had me worried. It’s not an awful song, but the melodies didn’t connect, and the riffs were less standout. In my mind, it doesn’t stack up to their previous work. While it may have worked better if it wasn’t the opening track, it is luckily the only song on the record that doesn’t work for me.
Next is ‘All Candy’, and as a lead single, it had me wondering if Greyhaven was going in a very different direction with this album. That ended up not being the case as the song doesn’t resemble any other track here. ‘All Candy’ cuts out most of the metalcore elements and leaves behind a groovy prog rock song. Despite not being their usual bread and butter, Greyhaven knocked it out of the park with this upbeat track that is everything a single should be.
‘A Painful and Necessary Action’ is where the album really starts to excel. The song whips from chaotic noise to sing-along choruses, and back again. One reason it works so well is undoubtedly Brent Mills’s versatility as a vocalist. He makes the transition from harsh screaming to clean singing sound so effortless, and it perfectly captures the emotion in these songs. Whether it’s desperation and anger, or a more somber sadness, these feelings are frequently portrayed in this album, and it paints a vivid picture for the listener.
The next few songs don’t last long, but they have as much impact as ever. The whole album, in fact, stretches just over thirty minutes, and not a single second is wasted. ‘More and More Hands,’ brings in some emotional elements. Its follow-up, ‘Of Snakes and Swans,’ focuses more on groove throughout its chorus. Neither track is without brutal screams or smashing riffs.
‘Foreign Anchor’ comes next, and it caps off the strongest 4 song run on the album. As this was another single, I had a lot of time to get acquainted with this track before the album’s release. And I definitely had it on repeat for those weeks. This song is an extreme version of the formula that Greyhaven has employed so far. While a majority of these songs use a blend of harshness and catchy choruses, ‘Foreign Anchor’ is more about the contrast between the two, flipping back and forth only a handful of times and seldom letting them mix. It’s a welcome twist on the blueprint they’ve established so far and an excellent way to introduce the second half of the record.
‘Fed to the Lights,’ is one of two tracks on the album that leans heavily into a sadder aesthetic. While I prefer the one that comes later, this song is still effective, and I love the mood that it establishes. The guitar work here is particularly tasteful, though it’s done well on the whole album. Nick Spencer shuffles between a few different styles in service of the song, and his licks are stellar across the record.
The next two songs are the proggiest on the album. ‘The Quiet Shakes,’ takes the main melody into a lovely softer section before building back into the chorus. ‘And It’s Still Too Loud’ does a similar maneuver, transitioning an anthemic chorus into a quieter end. Both songs start out frantic, only to calm down towards the finish, mirroring the direction the album has gone.
‘Ornaments from the Well’ is the second song that adopts a melancholic tone. On an album full of headbangers, this is a standout. There’s no screaming, no ripping guitars, no chaotic energy that’s so prevalent in Greyhaven’s work, and yet it might be my favorite song on the album. The track starts slow but builds into a beautiful climax by the end, where the guitars are swelling and Brent Mills singing tugs at the heartstrings. While the song is sad, it also contains a hopeful sound, especially toward the end. Which is welcome after such a dark and angry album.
Greyhaven has dialed the chaos up to 11 on this release, without losing the melodic elements that elevated their past work.
When a band releases an album as high quality as 2018’s ‘Empty Black’, it can be near impossible to live up to expectations with a follow-up. Greyhaven has managed to do that and more, crafting a worthy successor in ‘This Bright and Beautiful World.’