Byronic Sex & Exile: Grey Poison.
Leeds may or may not be the undisputed capital of Goth but it’s certainly where it’s dark spirt resides for many in the UK & does in many ways embody aspects of said spirit in its multiple alternative music venues & very noticeable acceptance of “Other”. “Grey Poison” so named after a quote about the city from none other than the mighty voice of Black Flag & a generation Henry Rollins is in essence a bittersweet love letter to both Leeds itself & the impact the dark shifting phantom of Gothic Rock has had on the city over the last 40 odd years.
BS&E’s last long player was a phenomenal record with titular track Distant Sound of Thunder being an instant classic of uplifting ethereal beauty, taking the listener not only out of the city but out of themselves. A more hopeful record appealing to the wistful dreamer in us all. In stark contrast to that, “Grey Poison” is a much darker, more cynical affair and manifests the Leeds soundscape not only in actuality by utilsing the voice of the city itself in ambient samples but conjures it’s spirit into tangible being with its lyrical & musical content. Described as a “Bleak” Gothic Operetta” it sees our dark romantic Byronic Hero Joel Heyes offer a collection of deep & dark original tracks & one truly inspired blinder of a rearrangement that reflect the dark gothic soul of the city & it’s musical history.
Musically it’s bang on the money as a true Gothic Rock record. Goth as Fuck, it’s got everything you’d want that outside label to have on the inside & plenty more besides. “Grey Poison” also has a very real & definite edge to it & we’re not talking the Byronic artist’s flamboyant live habit of brandishing a sword at the audience here but a real musical edge that gives the superbly crafted record a raw element that is both reminiscent of the live shows & indicative of the fact that you really are hearing something intriguing, something familiar & yet also new & exciting. Gothic Rock can & has oft become a play by numbers stereotype of itself. “Grey Poison” is anything but rote or stereotypical, that aforementioned edge is palpable in the way that some of the genre’s earliest progenitors were, not in a direct sound corelation no, as BS&E is very much Joels own take on the sound but in creative musicianship & attitude that’s a big, dark, bat shaped yes: Think early Birthday Party, Danse Society or even dare I say it The Sisters before FALAA. That kind of edge!
A bleak & dark operetta, it may well be, but as a listener this record took me to my happy place & truly put a smile on my face for the sheer musicality of it. And just, it would seem like music has been for Leeds over the last 40 odd years “Grey Poison” is a musical antidote to the dull, the mundane & the ordinary, three things this record is most definitely not.
Track wise there’s something for all dark genre fiends in the just under 60 minutes of aural pleasure that Grey Poison presents.
Favourite tracks have to be, well all of them really as each offer something in their own style to the sonically voracious listener, both individually & as a whole musical art piece; “Grey Poison” Stands as one of the most creative & interesting soundscapes of 2022. If you twisted my arm to choose, I’d have to say the deep, chest cavity rumblings of “Blood Black Heart” The Sweeping synths & bouncing bass of “The Shining Apostles of Cruelty” and now that I’m listening to each track again as I write this; the simply stunning re-arrangement & metamorphosis of The Doors “LA Woman” into the soaring Gothic Rock anthem that is “LS Woman” which may just be my getting ready to go a Gothing song hence forth.
You can Support Byronic Sex & Exile here by not just taking my word for it by buying the record & having a listen for yourselves here: Music | Goth City Records (bandcamp.com)