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The band's name, the cover art and the doomy intro oozing with medieval atmosphere really made me think that here's another Finnish dark or black metal band. Sometimes the first impression can be totally wrong and it happened with Ghost Guard, too.
See, Ghost Guard (GG from now on) are here to batter you. The band members' CV's include such bands as Rotten Sound, Enochian Crescent, Deathbound, ...And Oceans, Cartilage, Wings and Vomiturition. However, GG have quite a big gap when compared to all of these bands. GG's mixture of thrash and death metal together with hardcore mentality is furious, at times spiced with dark elements first heard on the intro (eg. church bell samples). Vicious mosh pit groove starts with the title track. It's not aggression alone that reaches a listener, but also hook-laden riffage, bad-ass guitar leads, and compositions mainly clocking around 3 minutes. All this shredding remind me quite heavily of Pantera's brutal stuff. The Pantera connection also lie in vocals, especially the spoken ones, reminding me of Phil Anselmo. "Drill bit lobotomy with oversized tools", as the band themselves put it... Now what album cover had a drill and a head on it..?! It's those two first Machine Head platters that haunt on this, too. So, GG do sound pretty North American, but the dark atmosphere which rears its ugly head every now and then make this so much more malicious. What the fuck, GG are not a Pantera rip-off, it's just those bygone greats that come to my mind while listening to this, probably because I can't think of anything better. The only real downgrading thing about this album is the similarity of the music, not when compared to the other bands, but on this album alone.
This is competently performed by experienced musicians. Drummer Sami Latva lashes his drum kit also in Rotten Sound, and guitarists Anssi Hyvärinen and Mikko Hannuksela and bassist Harry Kessunmaa have all been part of Vaasa's metal scene from 1990s. Vocalist Junnu Mäki spits his anger by screaming, shouting and speaking, and does it very convincingly, too. Production on this album is great, as every element is well balanced regarding to each other, and is very heavy and natural, too.
Fuck, I'm starting to feel sore, just had been spinning that Wasteform album and now this! Now where's that telephone directory, I need to see that chiropractor... Seriously, GG kick ass with their extreme metal and do it skillfully. I read from somewhere that 'Hollow Be Thy Name' was meant to be released through Woodcut Records, but it was self-financed and released. How the hell can a band like this be without a record label?!?!
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2007)