It’s always a gamble whenever you’re faced with certain crossroads in your life. The pressure of it all can be draining – frustrating, even – especially when there’s no way of knowing the outcomes. Yet, there is something extraordinarily life-affirming in taking the risks or moving forward, and that power is a quality we all possess, albeit sometimes lose perspective of. No one is at fault for this lack of awareness, of course, when going about your day can be overwhelming on its own merits. Nevertheless, the opportunities in engaging with these moments of clarity is possible in order to combat experiencing the emotional maelstroms. Let Greybloom, this edition’s Weekly Featured Artist, guide you through tapping into that potential.
Consisting of Dallas residents Erin Malone and Lauren Davis, Greybloom are no stranger to asking these sorts of questions. In fact, it’s pretty foundational when it comes to the conception of the project: Asides from forming in the middle of a global pandemic, this is the first time both members venture into crafting heavy music after having grown up in its scenes and communities. That, however, did not stop them from reaching out to each other and start creating. The chemistry they instantly formed halted any perceived limitations that might had arisen out of this.
Lauren: ‘I met Erin in fall of 2020, and we talked a lot about the music we listen to and realized we like a lot of the same bands. I was curious if she would ever want to start a heavy band with me, so I asked her and she said yes. I then wrote lyrics for “Monolith” and sent it her way. She sent back a demo of her guitar part and I knew at that moment we could become a successful band someday. It clicked more and more as she sent me demos of her guitar parts for every song that is on our EP.‘
Erin: ‘The first time Lauren and I hung out and talked I knew immediately we would be great friends just based on our similar upbringings and love for music. When she sent me the lyrics to “Monolith”, I was blown away by her writing as well as the way she could already ‘hear’ what the song should sound like. She basically gave me a template which I was able to follow while still bringing in my own tastes, tones, etc. The way that first song came together I knew this was something we should pursue.’
It’s no coincidence, then, that the namesake of the project captures this dualistic understanding of the uncertain and the ability to tackle it. Eye-catching in and of itself, both members were clear with the significance and weight of such a name from the start, simultaneously channeling that through their music which they refer to as ‘gloomy post-rock/post-hardcore‘.
E: ‘We definitely have a narrative with Greybloom that we try to communicate through our name, sounds, photography & design, and the content we share. To me that narrative is the ever present tension between the dark and the light, grief and joy, disillusionment and hope. We use the phrase ‘grow in the gloom‘ to kind of sum up this message.’
L: ‘I hope it’s something people can connect with even if the sound isn’t their preference or most favorite.’
My initial experience with Greybloom came from WherePostRockDwells‘ YouTube channel when I received a notification from them premiering the duo’s single titled “Sage”. I decided to check it out after being intrigued by the artwork accompanying the song, though not really having any expectations coming into it. After a brooding introduction executed by plaintive guitar leads coincided by subtle yet haunting keys, the vocals started kicking in and I was immediately sold. See, no matter how many times it happens, stumbling upon post-rock songs with singing in them is always a fun surprise for me, especially coming from a channel dedicated to such a subgenre.
Thing is, this is just the beginning – “Sage” further develops into this constant crescendo involving doomy guitar melodies and intricate drumming in the vein of melancholic rock stalwarts such as Ghost Brigade and later Katatonia, ultimately culminating into a riveting showcasing of both hurt and cleansing, only cemented by fervent and unrestrained growls. A great first impression, I would say.
Since then, I’ve been curious as to when and how both Greybloom and WherePostRockDwells crossed paths. To this, Erin and Lauren shared with me how a tight-knit and supportive community really does wonders to further your goals:
E: ‘At the start of 2021 I was invited to be a part of an online community called the Post-Everything Collective. We’re a big group of friends who make music spanning the entire post rock genre and we all do it pretty DIY. I was able to connect with Ronnie from WPRD through that group and when we released our first single “Monolith” he asked if he could share it on the channel. Since then he has shared all of our releases which we deeply appreciate! He is a pillar of the post rock community and his support means the world to us. Our music has reached a much broader audience through the channel and the response has been overwhelmingly positive!‘
L: ‘Erin told me about an online chat group called the Post-Everything Collective she joined when she started posting guitar videos on Instagram. I didn’t join until this year, but it’s been the most supportive community of friends we could be a part of. We are lucky to have that at the beginning of our journey as Greybloom. We mostly have amazing feedback from the channel’s followers.’
After the traction garnered from “Sage”, along with the aptly-titled “Monolith” and all its sonically devastating splendor, Greybloom sought to continue this journey by unleashing a collection of tracks that would reveal the scope of sounds they are capable of delving into. Enter Widow’s Weeds, the duo’s debut EP released in July 22 of this year, serving as yet another display of the overcoming of obstacles through self-awareness and risk-taking – starting all the way from its recording process.
L: ‘I loved recording for this EP. It was rather smooth and the challenges brought growth. My favorite part was getting to record it with my bestie, Erin, because I learned more about myself and now we have all these cool memories! I learned how to sing and scream better and how to explain my ideas clearer and to not be afraid to ask for something different if a sound wasn’t lining up. Erin has a few videos of me totally messing up the words while screaming but makes for a really good laugh. We met new friends and had a handful of them fill in on other instruments and offer tips on forming our sound. It’s okay to be patient and kind to yourself if a recording day is harder than another.‘
E: ‘We tracked all of our parts for the EP ourselves at my house. Lauren actually recorded all of her vocals in my bedroom closet haha! I enjoy recording this way because it’s way more relaxed and low pressure, however that also causes it to take a bit longer and sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to sit down and track parts. Personally, tracking guitars is my least favorite part of the music making process but obviously it’s something that I just had to push through and make happen. I’m really proud of Lauren and her growth through the songwriting and recording process; I’ve seen her vocals progress immensely just in the last year and a half that we’ve been working together. We had friends from all over the country & even overseas lend their talents to play bass and drums on the record and we are so deeply appreciative of their work on the songs. Our friend Jeremy Schaeffer mixed & mastered the EP and we couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. He also did guest vocals on “Quartz” and is in an awesome band called Earth Groans that we love!‘
Speaking of “Quartz”: what a hell of a way to start an EP. Flooding your senses with a siege of energetic riffs, the opener instantly branches out from the contemplative paces of “Sage” and “Monolith”, bringing forth a fantastic metalcore and melodic hardcore offering with a commanding demeanor that easily stands among its influences. The vocals match the ferocity of the instrumentals in a way that shows impassioned rawness, making way for a soaring chorus that feels both urgent and purifying.
E: ‘…When Lauren sent me the lyrics [for “Quartz”], she specifically asked for fast heavy riffs and a breakdown. As someone who is still very new to writing and playing heavy music, this was pretty intimidating at first. I wanted to do her vision justice and also push myself to write something technically difficult. I drew heavy inspiration for this song from early 2000s metalcore, specifically bands such as Misery Signals and Underoath. When writing it my approach was basically to draw from these metalcore tropes such as panic chords, rhythmic chuggy breakdowns, harmonized leads, etc. but make it fresh and make it my own. This is obviously our heaviest song which I know is not for everyone, but it is the one I am most proud of writing and it’s my favorite one to play live!‘
Following “Quartz” is a cut that demonstrates the sheer intensity of emotions Greybloom are able to convey. Featuring Secret Gardens, whom my buddy David did an WFA on just a week ago (no, this was not planned at all), “Moonglade” intertwines uplifting melodies with lovely imagery pertaining to being under the moon’s embrace and protection after a bout of disillusionment. The track is an ode to nature and the musicality makes sure to transmit that sense of wonder and spontaneity, from the shimmering and even playful guitar leads provided by Secret Gardens to the effortless blend of blackgaze-tinged howls and spacious cleans above a mesmerizing display of emotional post-hardcore.
Widow’s Weeds finds solace and even encourages the listeners to look inwards in search of healing through self-realization. It shines light on the existing dichotomy between the chaos unfolded by daily living and the strength to accept that reality and, simultaneously, make something new out of it. Lauren further expands on the thematics of the EP and the inspiration for its title:
L: ‘While writing for this EP, I did not know what the title of it would be until after all the songs were done. I wanted the title to embody all the themes in each song. Themes like death, grief, pain, belonging, and hope. During the pandemic, I experienced a lot of spiritual growth and part of that is letting go of what no longer serves you. I’m inspired by the gothic aesthetic and Victorian era, and the term ‘widow’s weeds’ originated during that time. It was a strict etiquette of mourning women went through to grieve the death of their husbands. Although I am not a widow by that definition, it is a metaphor to describe and acknowledge the stages of spiritual death and awakening. Sonically, Erin and I are playing a mixture of various genres we love. Sometimes I believe the sounds chose us, they were just waiting for us to tap into them.‘
Each song off the EP is its own rite of passage. From dealing with loss and the consequent pursuit of a glimpse of hope on “Sage”, the cathartic act of letting go on “Quartz”, or realizing the singularities of the collective experience of life itself on “Monolith”, Greybloom do not hold back and ensure they leave no stone unturned. Still, no song encapsulates the very essence of the EP quite like “Born From Water”.
Manifesting itself as a flawless coalescence of their post-rock/metal and post-hardcore leanings, “Born From Water” focuses on the fragility of existence and the turmoils that encompasses, all through the lens of a mother and a daughter.
L: ‘…It is specifically written about Episode 8 from the show The Haunting of Bly Manor. I thought that episode expressed all the themes of Widow’s Weeds in a beautiful way, and I wanted to learn how to write a song as if it was meant for a soundtrack. It’s not from a personal perspective, but incredibly relatable still. This song is special because this was the first one Erin and I wrote in person and not mostly over the phone like the other songs. We got to see how we operate in a creative space which solidified the dynamic of Greybloom even more. Sonically, I wanted the melody to sound like a lullaby to represent the story of the mother and daughter in episode 8. The whole song has a wide, complex range of sounds. I wanted the ending to resemble the sound of words being spoken through water like a ripple effect. We experimented with a round and added the heavy intensity to mirror the terror and tragedy in that episode. It’s my favorite part of the song to listen to and perform live.’
With all this talk about taking risks, overcoming life’s perils, and standing your ground in the face of uncertainty, there is something many of us don’t take into account and which merits emphasis, and that is how your very presence can be an act of resistance in itself. With regressive mindsets still present within our social and political spheres, Greybloom have taken this unfortunate reality as an opportunity to instill mentorship and guidance for those who feel and are otherized, providing their music as a vehicle to inspire creativity as a tool for representation and to foster more proactive and inclusive communities, much like the community they themselves are part of:
L: ‘From my experience so far, Erin and I have been received with open arms and have been treated with kindness. When we joined The Post-Everything Collective, the men were the ones cheering us on and asking to collaborate with us and giving credit where credit is due. I know women don’t always experience that in their music community. There is a lot of resistance which stems from stigma and stereotypes, but that makes us stronger because we are working harder and not expecting hand-outs. I think it takes an open mind and a listening ear to treat women, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, non-binary folks as equal in the music community. We are here to create, not compete. Representation matters because other people or maybe younger girls could see us play live or listen to our EP and feel that spark and realize ‘hey, I’m one of them. I can do what they are doing.’ And the movement keeps going. Everyone’s journey into a music community is different, but love erases the stigma. We can all be more loving.‘
It’s not every day you stumble upon an up-and-coming band as focused as Greybloom. With just an EP under their belt, they have certainly established an identity for themselves, all the while serving as a testament to the possibilities of reaching towards your fullest potential. I expect nothing but greatness from Erin and Lauren from here on out, so please do take your time to give Widow’s Weeds a listen. If anything, I can only hope that, at least, you can take away from their music the fact that, after all, and no mattering the crossroads you’ve reached at this point, there is always a chance to grow in the gloom.
As per Everything Is Noise tradition, I would like to give the closing statement to our Weekly Featured Artist:
L: ‘Shoutout to The Post-Everything Collective, our friends and family who support us and listen to our music. We seriously love y’all and wouldn’t be Greybloom without everyone. Advice I have learned so far is to drink lots of water to keep my vocal cords hydrated, do vocal warm-ups, practice, write every day, and show up for yourself. A fun fact, men shouldn’t make decisions about women’s bodies. You can donate to an abortion fund through our linktree. Thank you!‘
E: ‘It’s never too late to follow your dreams. We’re in our 30s finally creating the music we’ve always been passionate about and expressing ourselves fully in a world that wants to tell women what they can and can’t do. Start a band, learn an instrument, create things! Your voice matters and the world needs to hear what you have to say. Shoutout to PEGANG and our incredible music community for supporting us thus far. We’ve got more fun stuff coming soon and can’t wait to share more with y’all!‘
Erin Malone – guitars and vocals
Lauren Davis – vocals and lyrics
Widow’s Weeds is available on all streaming platforms and for purchase digitally on their Bandcamp page. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook and be on the lookout for upcoming merch and events, collaborations with other bands, and even remixes/acoustic versions of their songs!