Band – Pale Grey Lore
Album / Label –
Pale Grey Lore / Kozmik Artifactz – Oak Island Records
Rating – 4.5 / 5

It was one year ago that Pale Grey Lore dropped their self-titled debut album on an unsuspecting audience. The tone of their debut is reminiscent of some of the best of 70’s heavy rock, while neither sounding contrived or outdated.

The band is comprised of Michael Miller (guitar/vocals), Adam Miller (drums), Donovan Johnson (bass) and Xander Roseberry (guitar/backing vocals). Roseberry was added to the lineup in the winter of 2016.

With elements of Psychedelia/Stoner/Doom Rock reverberating from front-to-back, “Pale Grey Lore” weaves scenes from a post-apocalyptic world in which everything is blurred until there is no distinction between science and superstition. The dystopian world that inhabits the scenes depicted in each track leaves the listener wondering if this can indeed be a real possibility.

One year after their debut release, Kozmik Artifactz’ imprint Oak Island Records is set to release this stellar album on much-coveted vinyl (mid-2017). It’s time we revisit their self-titled debut release anew.

Opening with an aural landscape that conjures “Blade Runner” in all its glory, The Conjuration lays waste to the notion that the world is a beautiful, happy place. The confidence with which the band dives into the song is something rarely heard on a first album, let alone the opening track.

Pale Grey Lore’s self-titled debut album.

Life in the Hive is a guitar-driven sonic attack on your senses, with the melodic vocals weaving a stylistic path throughout the heavy underlying rhythm. At points, Michael Miller’s vocals almost promise hope, before dashing them into pieces. “There’s simply no place to hide,” screams Miller, with foreboding doom that rings all too true.

Like the tolling of an ominous church bell in a world of ashes, the solitary guitar that announces Black Sun Rise gives way to the destructive heaviness of the band playing the death knell. The sonic edge upon which they play slams your senses with a power that is almost physical with its punch.

Spiders is a sludge-driven dirge, with Miller’s vocals echoing through your cranium, threatening to overwhelm the synapses. The song is nuanced in its approach, with an ethereal quality of hope that does not ring hollow.

Laced with heavy, psychedelic trappings, the reverb-laden She Radiates takes the sound of early 90’s King’s X and leapfrogs to the next level. Johnson’s bass comes through loud-and-clear, bombastic in its tone, signaling that dark and heavy sounds still can sound pure and altruistic.

In what could easily be mistaken for the soundtrack to a pagan ritual, Ruins calls to mind all that was good with the progenitors of heavy rock. The tune is strangely hypnotic with its tonality, calling you ever deeper within the spell it weaves.

Pale Grey Lore (Credit: Dru Batte)

Woe Betide Us slows the pace, carrying an almost spiritual quality that permeates the very fibers of each note that sonically assaults you. It’s raw, but has a groove that you simply cannot escape.

Slightly upping the pace with Tell the Masters, they continue the downward spiral into the madness that is seemingly everywhere. Between the rhythm of the band barreling along full-steam ahead and Miller’s vocals weaving a surreal vignette of destruction, you begin to wonder is ruination is not already at hand.

Closing with Grave Future, the band comes full-circle in the quest to open our eyes to a world that no one wants to see. “We are on a sinking ship,” implores Miller, as the band carries the groove with both hope and dread the only choices that are seemingly out of reach.

Full of fuzz, distortion and a raw energy that they channel with a confidence unseen in debut albums, Pale Grey Lore give hope to the notion that heavy rock is not dead. It has merely been dormant, waiting for someone to come along and unleash its fury.

The band next plays Friday, June 16 at Café Bourbon St. in Columbus.

Pale Grey Lore – Life in the Hive