Grey Widow could be classified as a UK underground metal super-group as the band has been formed from past members of Dopefight, Parole, Thread and The Ergon Carousel. That’s some serious pedigree. Not only that but the band’s debut album has been recorded and mastered by none other than Sam Thredder of Slabdragger. It’s no surprise to learn that Grey Widow’s music is that of the doom variety and the band have seen fit to litter their sound with elements of black metal and sludge.
At only 8 tracks long but close to an hour in length, Grey Widow have created a selection of down-tuned, slow tempo arrangements that are loaded with groove. The thing you notice almost instantly is how thick and dense the guitar work is with each chord sounding like it’s being run through twelve distortion pedals and a bowl of treacle. The result is a signature sound that is enormous to behold.
Thankfully the band’s sound is also bolstered by some brilliant riffs. The fuzzy barrage of chords is an absolute assault on the ears and the band has seen fit to make sure the guitar is at the forefront of the mix. This was an enlightened choice because the guitar and bass carry the entirety of the band’s melody with vocals being screamed exclusively.
This is where the black metal influences permeate Grey Widow’s sound because the duel vocal attack changes between a higher-pitched, blackened howl and a lower-pitched, hardcore bark. The vocals actually manage to create a bleak and oppressive atmosphere instead of delivering further melody and it’s quite an interesting approach for metal vocals.
Sadly, Grey Widow suffer from an unfortunate issue that is all too common in doom metal; there simply isn’t enough variety on display. Every song is the same tempo and adheres to the same structure and the guitar tone and tuning simply never changes. This has the rather negative result of making every song sound far too similar and it’s extremely difficult to remember key songs (this also isn’t helped by the fact that each song is titled with a roman numeral).
I realise criticising doom metal for being formulaic is a bit ironic seeing as that’s the exact foundations the entire genre is built on, but Grey Widow’s I becomes a bit of a slog to listen to. Because of the dense guitar tone every riff merges into one and the whole listening experience drifts by without any real milestone moments.
Grey Widow have all the right elements to be a great band. They have devastating riffs, a huge sound, textured vocals and a seriously foreboding atmosphere, but the repetitive nature of their music lets them down. If Grey Widow can work on making their music a little more dynamic then their next release could be a seriously impressive offering. They don’t even have to do much; a quiet refrain or a change in time signature could give their music some stand out moments that help diversify the songs. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on what the band do next.
Grey Widow’s I is out now and available to purchase direct from the band.