One of the many things to look forward to with a release from the mighty Grey Stag is that you will always find their vision cloaked and shielded beneath the Celtic intricacies of the naturally talented Colin Bolger of Dabulga Design. Both these behemoths have become synonymous with one another when it comes to music and art. Grey Stags raw and stony dark riffs and crushing percussions seem to interweave and rumble through each and every knot that Colin carves into paper, becoming an aural tapestry of groove and folklore, all underpinned by thickened sludge and relentless energy. Grey Stag unearths the imagination and power of our deep rooted celtic heritage and battle hardy bloodline, raising the bar for Irish metal here at home, and ultimately, further afield.
Call Of The Mountain is in essence a concept album, tracing the journey from birth to death, a pilgrimage every one of us mere mortals must inevitably face at some stage, one of the only true dead certs in life. We may not share the bludgeoning hardship that our ancestors had to endure during their lifetime, but there are similarities, and Grey Stag’s Call Of The Mountain traces this through a barrage of pulverising riffs, gloomy bass lines and thundering drums.
The opening track Breith, is a gentle and innocent acoustic piece which harbours that celtic tone and cadence, which gives it an old and ancient feel to it. However, when These Seas Are Deep comes powering into view on its skeleton ship of timber and nails, the mood is darkened with doom laden riffs and harsh, gravelled screams. The pace changes to a gallop with alternating vocal styles sweeping across those chunky riffs and that underpinned bass guitar. A real stomper of a track.
Along this journey you find many varied styles deeply rooted in Grey Stag's sound, ranging from those raucous stoner and psychedelic grooves of the 70’s, through to the more melodic, yet gritty tirades that bands like Mastodon or Baroness have mastered but sadly now forgotten. Tracks like the pre-released Steadfast Leviathan and the relentless Killing Monsters, with its near hallucinogenic breakdown, really showcases both those examples. Fierce, furious and downright dirty.
Shifting moods and atmosphere, No Stranger To Pain brings an acoustic interlude to the album, a moment to reflect and recharge after the deluge of power and heft that the first few tracks brought with them. Soft, sombre and dripping in melancholia, each cord weeps and cuts deep with ever string plucked. It’s new territory for Grey Stag but a welcome one. The contrast between dark and light gives this album a lot more depth and weight.
The mid-tempo intensity of Sunder and This Mountain Moves reaffirm Grey Stag's ability to shapeshift through many different styles and structures. The melodic riffs bring flashes of old school rock to the forefront with bands like Thin Lizzy and early Iron Maiden seeping through the instruments.
Call Of The Mountain closes with its own death march, the acoustic and deeply sullen Bas. Forlorn lamentations haunt and cascade over the music before getting lost in the ether, and disappearing into nothingness, ending an album that sees Grey Stag take a giant leap in terms of song writing and delivery. Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Aidan Cunningham, Call Of The Mountain is an outstanding piece of work, from start to finish. Grey Stag have truly dug their hooves in and have released a beast of an album.