It’s been four years since GREYHAVEN first really shot onto radars with their second full-length Empty Black; hardly the longest gap between records, but long enough for a band of their relative youth and undeniable urgency that fans were more than ready for the arrival of This Bright And Beautiful World. Of course, part of the wait no doubt has a very obvious and all-too-common culprit, but the pandemic wasn’t the only reason the Kentucky-based quartet took their time. Following up a record that drew justified comparisons to the likes of EVERY TIME I DIE, NORMA JEAN and THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN is no mean feat, and yet, with This Bright And Beautiful World, GREYHAVEN have proven themselves more than up to the task.
“There were a lot of nice things said about Empty Black but it still felt like we were in this place where momentum was kinda spotty,” explains vocalist Brent Mills. “And then as soon as things really picked up, COVID hit and paused everything for everyone. So we’ve been hungry this whole time to pick things back up and now it feels like we’re more hungry than ever. I feel like this record is stronger than Empty Black, and I love what we did with that record, but four years of cultivating the relationships we have with one another and further getting to know how we write and play together made for a better record this time around.”
“More than ever I feel like we pushed ourselves to see what we’re capable of while staying true to our four-piece outfit,” adds guitarist Nick Spencer. “Making everything transferable live, which is always a fun challenge for me being the only guitarist, kind of forces you to be creative in ways you would’ve never thought of if there was a second guitarist… I think we all pretended that we didn’t feel that pressure, but it was there. However, as songs were coming into their final form while recording, that pressure seemed to disappear.”
Indeed, if anyone was going to help ease the pressure for a band like GREYHAVEN it was producer Will Putney, who also sat behind the desk for Empty Black, and what feels like near enough every other hard-hitting hardcore record released in the last few years. “We understood how each other operated so we just hit the ground running,” continues Spencer. “Because of the understanding, neither side was scared to voice musical opinions that maybe would’ve been held back in the past. Also, he’s just one hell of a great dude and it felt more like working with a friend than a co-worker.”
It’s safe to say that the process resulted in a record that all involved can be proud of, one that nods plentifully to the aforementioned bands, whilst also giving a clear sense of GREYHAVEN’s own vision and identity. Like previous releases, it strikes a considered balance between both melody and ferocity – delivering what feels like an arena-ready alt rock hook for every burst of metallic hardcore savagery. “For me personally, I just love melody,” suggests Mills. “I’d prefer to sing more than do more screaming but it’s just the better tool for what I’m trying to express a lot of the time with GREYHAVEN songs. I think we all just like big movements and balance and weird juxtapositions in music and we do it all over the place in ours. I think that kind of thing just makes for more interesting music.”
“I think that’s something we really pride ourselves on,” concurs Spencer. “I think it comes down to our solid personal relationships with each other. We all have different tastes in music and all our different preferences come out when writing, which could clash and be a nightmare, but because we all understand each other and respect one another, I think most of those elements are able to come out.”
Another key element to what GREYHAVEN offer on This Bright And Beautiful World lies in its striking lyrical content. Far from the lightness the album’s title might suggest, this sees Mills baring his soul for all to see, delivering pained and poetic explorations of struggles with mental health and depression. “Looking back at these songs, they tell me more and more about where I was at the time I was writing them… I’m always just expressing how I feel and it’s the only way I know how to make music that feels honest, but I do have to pay attention to what I’m saying and check in on myself. Sometimes it takes me a while to realise what I might be trying to say or express, it changes all the time really, but there’s no doubt some of it is pretty dark.”
That said, there is also freedom and catharsis in what GREYHAVEN do, with Mills adding, “I do think putting those things out there in this way is therapeutic for me, it’s transformative, it’s how I make the best of the worst feelings I have.” Perhaps it’s this which makes the record the triumph that it is – a refusal to be beaten into submission or silence by the battles that rage in our own heads. You can definitely count on GREYHAVEN to keep it up too, with both Mills and Spencer looking with justified pride and excitement to whatever may lie ahead in This Bright And Beautiful World.
This Bright And Beautiful World is out now via Rude Records/Equal Vision Records.
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