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Kolme - 63%

OzzyApu, May 9th, 2013

What the hell was Saukkonen thinking when he created “Ghost Town”? He had great songs like “Fade Away” and “…Nowhere” presenting the band’s showmanship in monolithic riffing, harmonic leads, and the serenity of the atmosphere. It’s such a stark contrast with the horseshit that goes on in “Ghost Town,” with its dishonorable use of “motherfuckers!”, “fuck shit up!”, and that godawful rapping that goes on in the middle. Oh yeah, and the song even starts off with a pretty cool harmony! Seriously, wasn’t there anyone to filter that bullshit from getting through? That’s one problem overall here that hit the previous album badly. It turns an otherwise potentially cool album into one that’s half-realized a lot of the time.

The rest of this album shows the band as they would be for the rest of their career. Saukkonen mostly does the one-man thing here, handling everything from his fluffy harsh vocals to the bustling drumming. It’s backed by production clearer and crisper than before, providing less of that atmospheric, gothic backdrop and more emphasis toward the power behind the guitars. Again, this would be the defining trait of the band with songs like the eclectic “Disappear” and “Fade Away” showing the slant of downcast riffs and newfound energy. The optimist in me sees this as Juho Räihä’s talent rubbing off on Saukkonen, but many of the melodies here are Saukkonen’s as they’d see variations on later albums. Take “Fade Away” and the obvious Gothenburg influences driving the song until Eikind’s enigmatic chorus elevates it. It’s character, memorability, and a spiritual-like peak brought about by the astonishing solo thereafter.

To further the optimist point of view in me, I’d even like to call this album great. However, it isn’t, with many songs spiraling into mediocrity as they’re unable to lift themselves out of their own compositional rut. I mean what The Ghost is able to accomplish is playing like Dark Tranquillity or Insomnium, but with some swag to it that makes it catchy on one end and loyally tedious on another. Eikind’s vocals get overused later on in poor ways, but here they’re applied tactfully in songs like “Scar” to enhance the atmosphere. Nonetheless, it’s still steady riffs crunching their way to the end half the time. Eikind’s vocals are higher and less fluent than Willman’s on the previous two albums, and I can’t help but feel like their inclusion butchers the avalanche of riffs, harmonies, and keys like on “Enemy,” “Angel’s Tombstone,” and “Black Dawn”. It would really bring out the album’s vastness if his cleans weren’t there to make the songs poppier – just let the riffs keep sounding immense!

It’s hard to pinpoint whether the bad things about this album are actually good. I want to like The Ghost but it feels too unrealized. “Ghost Town” just annoys the shit out of me, but the rest of this isn’t bad music. It’s got semi-great production (those snares are tin blocks) and some damn good songs like “Fade Away,” but the flow dips and ideas don’t seem like they were properly thought out. Saukkonen’s instrumentation is quite solid overall, but his mindset would have done well to focus on how he wanted to form his compositions around gripping hooks.