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Misty Grey : Grey Mist

Misty Grey's debut is everything that a Traditional Doom album could hope to be.

Spain’s Misty Grey make rock music the way God, Ozzy, and Bobby Leibling intended: menacing, swaggering riffs and haunted vocals drenched in cheap beer and perfumed with a haze of hash smoke. Nothing moves faster than a drunk staggering home at sunrise; every guitar solo is exactly as long as it needs to be. Their first proper full length, ’Grey Mist,’ refines the promise shown on their earlier demo releases ’Demon’ and ’The Third Man’ into a compact weapon constructed of pure Doom.

The group was started as a Black Sabbath covers outfit by former Sacrophobia guitarist Juan, and they have always worn their Trad Doom influences proudly, peppering their set-lists and recordings with songs by Witchfinder General and Pentagram. ’Grey Mist’ is very much stylistically of a piece with their previous recordings, but presents a much tighter and focussed document of the band. On ’Demon,’ the band sometimes came across as a little bit ragged, occasionally perhaps a bit sloppy. Their playing here is much stronger, Juan and bassist Robin presenting a unified harmonic front while maintaining plenty of breathing room. Juan’s soloing is a perfect example of restraint. He certainly has solid chops, but his solos are compact, well constructed little structures that never overstay their welcome. Javi’s drums are deceptively simple. His straightforward snare work and ringing cymbals are almost old-fashioned, very much in keeping with the band’s seventies influences, but his facility with moving from a gumboots-in-the-mire slog to a crisply articulated double-time reveals a drummer with excellent skill and taste.

What sets Misty Grey apart from the longhaired legions of denim-clad Doom traditionalists is nothing revolutionary, but it makes all of the difference in the world: articulation and taste. There are a finite number of dismal minor-key riffs left to be discovered by the workers whacking away in the Metal mines; the ones here are very good ones. But one of the things makes these tracks outstanding is the tension between fist-pumping lockstep and the sudden lurch of an unexpected fall. In a track like the muscular album opener 'High Noon', we are swept up in the brisk punky chug of the main chord progression, with Javi going after his kit like a butcher breaking down a hog with a dull cleaver. At the end of each verse we hit a tasty lurching turnaround that feels like a fire escape step giving way beneath you altogether too far above the pavement. The rhythmic fluidity of Misty Grey is richly seductive, the balance of hammer and drift dragging the listener along again and again. The interplay of Juan and Robin adds a lot to what is on offer on 'Grey Mist', each moving in and out of close harmonic playing to add just enough counterpoint and complexity to keep the sonic textures interesting whilst still maintaining a compelling atmosphere. Even on the instrumental track, 'The Man With No Name', they manage to be inventive without being meandering. While not quite minimalist, the melodies here are straightforward, with just enough discord and squawk to give the proceedings some grit.

Misty Grey's most unique asset here is the unique voice of recently-departed vocalist Malicia. Her brash alto is not the most virtuosic of instruments, but it is a rivetting one. She sings for the most part on 'Grey Mist' in a fairly clean timbre, showing little of the retching screech that she used so effectively on 'Demon', sounding here like an improbably menacing seven-year-old girl. The slightly fragile character of her voice plays wonderfully against the muscularity of the rest of the musicianship. Her range is not great, but she has a marvelous sense of the theatrical in her delivery, and her vocal melodies give this album its most dominant stylistic signature. Despite its apparent fragility, her voice conveys a very convincing sense of dread, deploying the occasional gutteral howl to add a demented embellishment. The title track is the standout vocal performance on the album, sounding like nothing so much as a female Wino from Madrid. Her voice might be an acquired taste for some, but it gives 'Grey Mist' a sound like nothing else.

This album is everything that a Traditional Doom album could hope to be. It follows all of the conventions of the genre, but manages to execute them in a way that dodges cliché. The playing and writing on 'Grey Mist' are uniformly excellent, and although some of what is on offer here can sound simplistic, repeat listens reveal a delightful faculty for invention. Malicia's vocals might be a take it or leave it proposition, but on the takers' side, she will be missed.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. High Noon
2. Grey Mist
3. Dusk 'Till Dawn
4. A Touch of Evil
5. The Man With No Name
6. Freaks Of Doom
7. Dead Zone

Duration : Approx. 36 minutes

Visit the Misty Grey bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-03-20 by Chadwick Crawford
Rotten Copper
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