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I remember being extremely blown away when I first chanced upon Drug Honkey with their 2009 full length, Death Dub, with the wide range of insane influences that are included in their experimental style of extreme metal, ensuring that the listener is left as disturbed as possible by the end of the album. Finally receiving Ghost in the Fire after a long wait definitely got me excited, and left me wondering what the band could possibly be up to this time round.
The band certainly wastes no time in unleashing their demented form of death/doom metal onto and punishing the listener’s ears as heavily distorted, crushing riffs hit the listener right from the beginning with Order of the Solar Temple. As one would soon come to realise, the band trudges along slowly for the most part of the album, as though the music on the album weren’t disturbing enough, giving the listener plenty of time to absorb the insanity in the band’s music. However, unlike Death Dub which at times could simply be plain weird, on Ghost in the Fire there is almost a lack of these weird moments, though this certainly doesn’t mean that the music is any less powerful. Vocalist Honkey Head retains one of the main culprit in causing the hair on the back of the listener to stand, with his vocals ranging from inhuman growls to just trance-inducing chanting, and the mixing of the various vocal styles is definitely one of the more disturbing elements in the music of Drug Honkey on this album. Just listen to moments such as the tortured shrieks on This Time I Won’t Hesitate, almost bordering depressive black metal though with a heavier death/doom edge. And this is only made worse with the various sound effects that are utilised, such as the usage of loops on the title track that often pushes limits of the listener’s sanity.
The painfully slow music is backed by the heavy and crushing instrumental section, particularly of the rhythmic section of bassist Brown Honkey and drummer B.H. Honkey. As usual, B.H. Honkey’s drumming is awfully slow, dragging out the punishing listening experience of Ghost in the Fire, while Brown Honkey’s constantly rumbling bass helps in creating a heavy and intense atmosphere throughout the album. To be honest, there is nothing particularly technical on the album, and I can’t emphasise this enough: everything here just progresses at an extremely slow pace. And that is the beauty of Drug Honkey‘s art. One has to simply throw out all prior concepts of metal, and simply absorb the entire experience of the album. The dark atmosphere is perhaps one of the main intentions of the band, and with the clever songwriting and instrumentations, the band has certainly covered this aspect excellently, proving that technical flamboyance isn’t necessary in writing a phenomenal record.
Like already mentioned, there is less of those utterly weird moments from Death Dub on Ghost in the Fire. But this does not make the album any less of a challenge to listen to. At the same time as well Drug Honkey on Ghost in the Fire has shown a more structured thinking process, resulting in a very fulfilling album and avoids sounding like another amateurish experimental project.