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Contrary to what I wrote in my Obsidian Tongue review regarding one-man black metal bands and how they generally don't work, Galaktik Cancer Squad from Hamburg, Germany is the solo effort of one, Argwohn, whom formed the band back in '11 and honestly makes it work. As it often goes for solo projects he's been rather prolific, releasing three full-lengths, as well a few splits and an EP. He's even had time to mastermind another solo endeavor called Morphinist and been a part of the bands Metakognition, Grauzeit and Garlben. However, what matters here is Galaktik Cancer Squad and Argwohn's fourth full-length, 'Ghost Light,' which is also his first album released by a label, namely; Hypnotic Dirge Records.
Being my first experience with the band I can tell you this is rare occasion where a solo musician is really coming up with something special and effective too. GCS plays a sort of post/progressive black metal with towering majestic melodic characteristics and melancholy sensibilities that hit where it counts for an atmospheric and enjoyable journey. Its not anything new, but its really, really good.
'Ethanol Nebula' opens the record and its one the speedier songs on the record with plenty of blasting and more dissonant typical black metal parts, but the melodic aspects sneak through and set the mood for the rest of the album quite stunningly. 'When the Void Whispers My Name' is by far my favorite of the album, kicking off with a softer post rock-ish vibe, it gradually builds in momentum before kicking into high gear with underlining melodies of melancholy and pure epicness soon enough, and with a brilliant lead riff and calmer part at the end it makes for quite a song. 'In lichterlosen Weiten' is one of the albums longest at over twelve minutes and similar to the previous songs it has both its brutal parts and post-ish and progressive aspects, the middle of the song in particular is just beautifully despondent, which reaches a breathtaking climax around the eight minute mark with synth and piano work, before diving back into speedier territories.
The title track is not without its melodic side, but generally goes for a more straight forward approach until the ending when things calm down, while the final song, 'Hypnose' encompasses' everything already previously heard on the album, but takes it to the fifteen minute mark, although its entirely instrumental, but from what I've read previous records from the band were instrumental, so this isn't really out of place for the band.
Song by song commentary aside, it should be pointed out that the musicianship on display here is quite good and the song writing is surely way above average for the usual solo black metal projects. Also the fact that its properly recorded adds a great deal of strength to the overall experience.
As a whole, 'Ghost Light' is strong album, especially the first three songs, which just plain rule. I think the last two songs lose a bit of steam, but its still got enough to make for an all around enjoyable listen. Argwohn is surely up to something special on here and I can easily say if you dig any sort of post-ish & progressive-ish black metal you'll want to look into this guys work.
Originally wrote for, Lunar Hypnosis: http://lunarhypnosis.blogspot.com