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Lip and nose-pierced medusas for the tie!!! - 64%

hells_unicorn, August 27th, 2013

Introspection is not something that's necessarily out of bounds in black metal, in fact, it's one of the key ingredients in the unique perspective that many of the 90s proponents of the style utilized in their reflective lyrics regarding the cold landscapes, mountains and forests of their various places of origin. But lately it has become heavily exaggerated, leading to a number of beatnik adherents to the style whose incorporation of the post-rock and ambient characters have created something that is more hypnotic than it is spellbinding, resulting in a massive generation gap between the occult-based roots of black metal's origins. America seems to be particularly taken with this approach, arguably even more so than a number of shoegaze oriented outfits out of France and the U.K., and has fielded a great number of bands looking for further perpetuate this alternative approach, of which Ghosts At Sea finds itself in the midst of.

To be fair, musically this Indiana/Kentucky based outfit is much closer to the root sound of Burzum than the likes of Agalloch, Fen, WITTR and Alcest. It hits the ears with a heavily mechanical character due to the one-dimensional dynamics of the drum machine tracks, giving it a slight helping of a marching off to war feel, which is perhaps a bit of a clash when measured against the largely post-rock character of the music. At times things really pick up, as blasting drum-lines and rapid tremolo riffs bring about some heavy hints at the almost bludgeoning character of a few slightly more death metal oriented approaches of certain early 2nd wave bands, though the guitars retain their generally light and shimmering character. The vocals largely follow the agonized and melancholic screams normally heard out of the depressive side of the blackened coin, perhaps having the greatest resemblance to Fen's front man, but retaining a slight air of earlier tradition as well.

As with most post-rock oriented black metal albums, "Hymns Of Our Demise" generally plods on like an extended jam session, dwelling on ideas in a heavily repetitive and longwinded manner somewhat reminiscent of Darkspace, though this thing sticks of standard guitar, bass and drums instrumentation and doesn't veer off into the pitch black cosmos. It's chief weakness is that it generally finds itself stuck between 2 dimensions, namely slow moving post-rock and high-speed traditional black metal sections that go on for a long time and switch in a sudden, jostling fashion. The creepy parallel minor chord progressions that generally typify a number of bands influenced by Emperor and Darkthrone are littered all over each song, but everything comes off as just a tad bit too predictable. Then again, the atmospheric aesthetic of the guitars is beautifully realized and fairly reminiscent of the last several Burzum albums since Varg's release.

Those seeking trance-music after the same overall character of Fen and Wolves In The Throne Room, or Agalloch without all the progressive influences will find a decent album here. Unfortunately it's not a terribly distinctive album and will definitely conjure up memories of when this style was brand new 20 plus years ago when Varg Vikernes laid down the tracks for what eventually became "Filosofem". It's the sort of album that doesn't really win or lose, but manages to play against the listener's expectations to the point where a tie is declared, and the feeling of a partially fulfilled outcome is actually well reflected in the way the music dissipates from memory soon after the notes have stopped. It's a good album for an occasional listen, but it's not the sort of work that will stick around, much like the disappearing fog in the forest as the sun rises.

Lyrical themes: Experiences - 46%

caspian, August 26th, 2013

<-- Man that lyrical theme is funny as shit. Moving on, anyway.. This will be a short review because there's not a terrible amount of stuff to say, really.

Ghosts at Sea- the bandname isn't bad but not terribly original, and that sums the rest of this album up as well. GAS (lols) really, really want to get on the Cascadian bandwagon, and make no real apologies about it. It takes about 15 seconds to notice that this sounds a lot like a slightly bedroom-ish version of Panopticon and particularly Wolves in the Rest Room. There's that rather biting Burzum tone, bit o' Post rock, plenty of fast tremelo stuff but it's never ugly- all very consonant and melodic, very melancholic, all that sort of stuff. Effectively, it sounds like Agalloch sped up a fair bit, as does every other band in this scene. The drums are blasty and well-enough programmed, there's occaisonally some neat little dual guitar interplay, it's foresty, it's aiming for high art, the vocals yell and scream with a fair bit of conviction.

Yeah, this music isn't awful- we've all heard far worse, no question about it, there's problems, though. For one, there's a jarring little part at the start of The End of Days- around the 30 second mark, it's noticeable- where the dude obviously just ctrl C + ctrl V'd everything but didn't get the loop right- rather problematic really, it's not like tremelo at that sorta tempo is all that hard. It's little things like this, the rather sterile-well enough, but clearly fake as hell- drum production, the fact that there really is nothing remotely remarkable or new here that suggests this is rather amateur- bedroom, almost- bit of black metal.

Nothing more to say, really- this isn't bad music but neither is it remotely good. Pretty much the cascadian version of a generic Darkthrone rip off- unless if you're a total fanatic for this sound, there's not much here for you and I wouldn't bother.

Oh, and all the songs are waaaaay too long. Boo!