Emerging from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary band Greybeard offer up a delicious fusion of metal influences, from black metal and death metal to atmospheric and progressive elements.
The Greybeard sound is chocked full of filthy riffs and grooves that’ll have you headbanging along, as well as delicious solos and engaging vocals fused with terrifying growls that’ll keep you on your toes.
The quartet began as a project between Ross Anderson (lead vocals and guitars) and Casey Rogers (drums). As Ross explains: “I’ve played in plenty of punk/hardcore bands over the years but I had never done a metal band. I had some more ‘metalish’ songs kicking around so I thought ‘why not!?’ and I asked Casey if he wanted to work with me.”
That turned into first EP Session 1 – Gaze Into The Empty, released in 2016, which saw Ross take on lead vocals in a band for the first time. For the second EP Session 2 – Built to Destroy, released in 2017, they brought in Guy Onraet on a few lead guitar sections, which Ross says “definitely brought the songs to another level.”
That was followed up the same year by Session 3 – Serpent King, on which Guy played more guitar parts and they really evolved into a band rather than a project with the arrival of Amanda Bourdon on bass. As Ross tells us: “Amanda did some vocals on that EP as well which added another layer to the band. We decided to start playing live shows so Amanda took on the bass guitar and vocals, and Greybeard finally reached its optimal lineup!”
While Guy adds: “Ross was taking guitar lessons from me and asked me to play a few solos for the second EP. I loved his tracks and as I became more involved with the third EP, I knew we had to take this music to the people. I suggested putting a set together, Ross mentioned it to Casey, who brought in Amanda and the rest is history.”
Looking ahead to Oracle
Those EPs have built up to the pending release of next month’s debut album Oracle. On it, Ross tells us: “I’m really excited for people to hear Oracle! Casey did an amazing job mixing and mastering it and everyone laid down kick-ass performances to make it sound great. The cover art, by Thérèse Lanz, is amazing and really solidifies the fantasy element to the entire recording.
And Amanda adds: “I’m absolutely stoked. This is actually my first official metal recording on bass, despite playing for years in other bands. It was a really collaborative effort and I’m truly proud of our work!”
Oracle presents a thrilling musical offering that fleets between classic metal fused with elements of doom, death metal and progressive influences. Ross promises a record of mid- to slower tempo tracks that offer plenty of groove, heavy and atmospheric sections, and the use of dynamics and tempo to tell the album’s story.
It starts in pretty epic fashion with opening track Vision, which starts with chugging guitars then a growled chorus gives way to a heavy smash of pounding drums and guitars before a chorus supported by atmospheric backing vocals. A big stabbing riff takes over as the intensity continues
The heavier end of the album is present on the awesome second track Unspeakable, which opens with dramatic sounds then a powerful force of heavy guitars and intense vocals. A groovy bouncy riff kicks in and returns in a huge chorus with really cool rhythm section under big growled vocals.
Third track Craven opens up with a delicious riff over an atmospheric backdrop, then growled vocals take over. Huge double bass drums come in as the vocals intensify, then the opening riff returns in a big atmospheric instrumental section that drops back into the growled vocals. That eventually leads into a wonderful little guitar solo, which feeds into a return of the opening riff. A dramatic, powerful section ends on driving guitar chords and end on a huge solo to bring the track to a superb close.
It’s not all heavy stuff though, with more laid-back, melodic sections and tracks. For example, penultimate track Vengeance begins really mellow and builds up to a heavier section of guitar chords, which continue under a really cool guitar solo. The pace picks up with faster guitar riffs and big groovy rhythms under Ross’ growls. A lively little bassline jumps in then intense drums give way to another funky solo to finish off.
And the album finishes with an absolutely epic flurry in Heiress of the Night. It opens up with a fun stabbing riff, then some amazing drums that you can’t help but bang your head along to as Ross’ growls come in. An almost triumphant little guitar riff feeds into a singalong chorus that ends with fast-paced guitar flurries and another huge solo. An intense opening eventually drops into light guitars, but soon picks up pace again in an intense section of growled vocals and driving guitars, which drops into Amanda’s more laid-back vocals. But that suddenly drops into a huge section of fast-paced guitars, driving drums and Amanda’s huge vocals, which bring the track to a close.
To further whet your appetite for the album, Amanda tells us: “You’ll get brutal growls, layered harmonies and power vocals, thunderous, intricate drumming, crushing guitars and spell-binding solos, groovy and galloping basslines, and some hella cool interludes. It really is a journey and I recommend listening to the album from start to finish.”
And for a taste of what’s to come, here’s a video for Heiress of the Night:
Concept album theme
Adding further intrigue to the album launch is the theme that will be coming our way. As Ross explains: “Oracle is a concept album that follows a narrative through themes of betrayal, cowardice, hatred, vengeance, forgiveness, and resurrection. A really quick summary would be: village oracle sells out his people to escape a dark force that is coming to wipe them out; a young village girl has a vision of where the oracle has fled; she rallies the remaining villagers to hunt him down; they venture into an ancient labyrinth, find him and kill him; the dark power that had inhabited the oracle moves into the young village girl and she becomes the new bad-ass in town!”
And, as Guy adds: “It’s an epic tale of broken promises and sweet revenge. The songs have a huge dynamic range from whispers to eruptions. Lots of melody and lots of brutality.”
We also asked the band to pick out particular tracks that they favoured or were looking forward to people hearing. Guy told us: “I really enjoy playing Unspeakable. It has a super nasty and heavy groove, especially the chorus where I play along with Casey’s double-kick extravaganza.”
Amanda said: “Heiress is a track that especially showcases our diversity. But I love playing Craven, there are some real banging parts to it, alternating with the steady groove of the verses. The absolutely ripping Guy solo at the end blows me away.”
And, for a more general insight of what to expect, Ross told us: “I like all the tracks for different reasons and different parts. I think Truth is a really cool track because of the mood and the guitar riff at the ending. There are great vocal hooks with Amanda’s clean backing vocals and the ‘doom-ish’ middle part is really sinister sounding and builds into a crushing bridge back into the main song.
“My daughter actually did the creepy spoken word in the middle. I recorded her speaking the verses, then we played them backwards which makes it sound like a young girl speaking in tongues which is a part of the song. Whenever I hear that crushing bridge it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end! Every time.”
The Greybeard sound has been inspired by bands like Opeth, Megadeth, Mastodon, classic metal bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, wider influences like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Gojira, and many more.
As Ross tells us: “I grew up listening to metal and punk so I have a pretty broad range of bands that have influenced me over the years. I can get behind the melodies of say an Iron Maiden or In Flames. I love the technical prowess of bands like At The Gates and Dark Tranquility. The dynamics and range of Opeth and Mastodon are killer. And Slayer’s Reign In Blood… the first time I heard it I thought it was the most dangerous thing ever – and it still stands up! I also really like the angular chaos of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, The Chariot, and Drive Like Jehu.”
While the Greybeard sound has evolved over time from the early days of the project to what’s coming our way on Oracle. As Ross explains: “Our first couple of EPs were more personal for me as the songs were primarily about my own views and feelings on the current state of the world. For Session 3 – Serpent King I tried connecting the four songs into a story, like a concept album starter, based on the rise of an authoritarian leader who leads his country into ruin.
“I started writing the songs in 2016 during the rise of Donald Trump and that was the primary influence for the story. It’s funny/sad to read the lyrics now and think about what’s happening in our world. I kind of feel like a prophet! For Oracle I decided to go full concept album and, since I play Dungeons and Dragons, I thought ‘why not write an album that is like a DnD adventure?’ So that’s what I did.
Oracle will be released next Friday (6 November) on WormHoleDeath Records and Wasted Wax Records and is available for pre-order now. It’s a thrilling journey of a listen and we firmly recommend getting your hands on it. The band also hope to be playing live again locally soon and will have more playthrough videos and behind the scenes footage available shortly too.