As wildfires ravaged Australia, Pittsburgh thermostats reached 70 degrees in January, and climate change denial remains endemic to people in power around the globe, the members of the mysterious Pittsburgh melodic metal band Deathwhite were channeling their rage into a new album.
Grave Image, Deathwhite’s second album for esteemed French label Season of Mist, is an extroverted effort that reflects "the world as it is … a sounding board of how we feel about the world right now,” says a member of Deathwhite, whose identity, like the other bandmates, is not known to the public. The album’s lyrical themes take aim at the willful ignorance and greed of climate change denial. It's something the members all take to heart.
“We’re going backwards with some of these things, where people are ignoring scientific facts, or ignoring evidence, and it’s truly remarkable. It almost makes your blood boil to some degree that these things are happening, and so we decided to put it into the album,” says the member of Deathwhite, adding that while the band is apolitical, the idea of climate change denial is one they find “mind-boggling.”
Inspired by heavy, melancholic metal, Grave Image is a remarkable collection of songs delivered with outstanding, clean vocal performances. With some haunting ambient textures that may not be obvious upon first play, each listen reveals new captivating details and a subtext of restrained optimism.
As for the anonymity, the band formed in 2012 with the intention of being a studio-only project, and the members felt the best way to elevate the music was to keep their identities secret.
“Sometimes when you form a band and they say, 'this, that, and the other [person] was in this band before, so they’ll sound like this.’ We just wanted to be completely clean,” says the member.
Having performed live only once, Deathwhite hopes to add to its live repertoire in 2020; the anonymous member shared that the band has an interest in hitting more stages. The member says that the band has the luxury of being “picky” in venturing outside the studio, and the opportunity to perform their music live is seen as an added bonus.
Playing live might seem tough for a band hoping to remain anonymous, but Deathwhite has managed to pull it off. At their first show, the members did soundcheck before the audience arrived and wore hooded robes and corpse paint on stage.
“To my knowledge, no one came up to us and asked whether we were in Deathwhite,” says one member. "We tried to stay in character as much as possible while giving the best performance we could. Since we never imagined playing live upon our 2012 formation, it was almost surreal in a way. But, we are very happy we did and will likely do it again.”
Nevertheless, the members are not ready to pull back the hoods any time soon.
“You can say being anonymous is a gimmick, but we want the music to stand on its own,” says one Deathwhite member. “We’ll see how far this goes.”
Grave Image is out Fri., Jan. 31 on Season of Mist. deathwhite.com