Two records in and it certainly feels as though the Toronto-based noise-punk quartet Greys are tapping into something rather exceptional. With their 2014 debut If Anything, the group established themselves as keen and critical observers of the angst-ridden punk scene that they were thriving within. Their follow-up record, Outer Heaven, has taken that lyrical formula and spun it into a dense, textured opus that has set the band apart from many of their peers as their ire is directed toward an ever-widening set of societal problems.

Whereas If Anything opened with the screeching, tongue-in-ode to Fugazi's Guy Picciotto, Outer Heaven arrives with a more subdued, atmospheric intro via 'Cruelty.' Per frontman and guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani, the track is the result of hearing a story about "a group of teenagers in Florida who lured their classmate into the woods under the pretense of wanting to be his friend, and then attacked him with a machete. They then buried his still breathing body, and two of the attackers proceeded to have sex on the makeshift grave." Tackling the loss of innocence and the appallingly morbid nature of the world in the very first song is a bold strategy, but Greys does it with aplomb. Even as the album progresses and the band's trademark ferocity returns, the evocative emotionality of the first track weaves itself into each and every song.

Greys still thrives in their ability to poke fun at the genre and scene with which they are most frequently aligned. Jiwani seems to be very in tune with the malaise and misanthropy that fuels so much music of this sort, but he also recognizes how this has begun to verge on parody, because what punk band isn't fueled by introspective angst? "Gimme gimme my gold star," Jiwani shouts on the appropriately titled 'Complaint Rock,' "for not trying so hard." This sense of contradiction is a recurring motif throughout the record: "I hate it!/I want it!/I need it!/I love it!"

But while these preoccupations are now a firmly established part of Greys' appeal, Outer Heavens sees the group taking on a larger array of societal problems they are uniquely equipped to address. Jiwani is of South Asian descent and, as such, is a clear minority within the punk scene and the world at-large. As a result of his real-life experiences--such as the pains of being a minority going through airport security or the social anxieties caused by being of a darker skin tone in the aftermath of the Paris attacks--Outer Heaven pushes itself to take on larger societal issues that modern "indie" punk has been avoiding as of late.

On the record's second track 'No Star,' which was written in the aftermath of the aforementioned Paris attacks, Jiwani exclaims, "Don't shoot! I'm not the enemy!" It is a simple, yet powerful statement that evokes the sentiments of movements such as Black Lives Matter. Meanwhile, 'Sorcerer' takes on a more complex, dysphoric tone. Lines such as "My body makes me sick/I'm trapped inside my skin" make for uncomfortable, but compelling listening.

On a purely instrumental level, Greys have crafted a gripping record replete with textured guitars and killer hooks. The sound palette of If Anything has been refined and expanded without compromising the band's explosive might. But where Outer Heavens truly shines is on Jiwani's ability to flip the genre's penchant for navel-gazing toward the outside world with forceful effect. Greys' love for the political-minded punk of Washington, D.C.--Fugazi, Bad Brains, etc.--is obvious. With Outer Heavens, they might have just joined them on even terms.