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Ghastly – Mercurial Passages Award winner

Mercurial Passages
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 30 June 2021, 1:45 PM

GHASTLY is a Finnish death metal band who formed in 2011. “Mercurial Passages” is their third full length album; they have also released a demo and an EP. “Mercurial Passages,” is a different beast of a death metal album. Although it is obviously dark and heavy, it takes such a different approach than most other death metal I’ve heard this year.  It isn’t fast, nor does it bludgeon the listener to death. Finland is famous for producing bands that have an amazing grasp on extreme metal that can also be melancholic and melodic.  I wouldn’t say GHASTLY have produced a death metal album that would fall under being melodic per say but there are plenty of moments where a different sort of melody weaves into the heavier aspects to result in a very trippy and sometimes spaced out sound.

What GHASTLY have released is a musical miasma of psychedelic sickness.  The music doesn’t ram into me so much as creep into my, enveloping my senses and pulling me down darken corridors.  It is honestly a surreal experience, sort of like being trapped inside a fever dream. The production is tight, capturing every detail of the music and the flow the instruments have together.  It has seven tracks and a run time of forty minutes, being an album that doesn’t over stay its welcome but supplies more than enough depth and reason to go back and start all over again many times.

The first track, “Ouroborus,” begins with an intro that builds trepidation masterfully.  The clean notes over the back drop of heavy riffs help settle in this feeling further.  Once the drums begins, the entire feeling gets solidified into some ancient beast that stalks perpetually forward.  The death growls and screams are both deranged and dangerous.  As unsettling as this song is, the band doesn’t ever let me forget this is death metal so the second half of the song is a bit more focused on that end but the song’s overall feeling never leaves.  This is how you do an opening track.

Sea Of Light,”  is more riff focused but, again, the band keeps up their unsettling atmosphere.  I have to hand it to them…these three guys really know how to combine brutally with other worldly soundscapes.  The intensity doubles down around the halfway mark, especially with the drums taking enter stage and just laying down a massive sound. “Parasites,” features some of that melody I spoke of early but this is far, far removed from melodic Finnish death metal or even the Gothenburg sound.  If one thinks of melody as light then the light here is dim and a stale, another layer of psychosis to drench upon this bed of death.  The lead guitar is the mvp on this song, weaving in these counter melodies and harmonies create a fabric that sound inhuman. The last forty-five seconds is some intense stuff, the final rage of a pissed off beast.

The final track, “Mirror Horizon,” is a goddamn show stopper.  It has a similar feeling to the first track, bringing the album to a complete end that circles back unto itself…fitting considering the title of that first track, right? This song represents the band as their best:  atmospheric riffs that sludge through pounding drums, robust base, and sick vocals.  Ghastly’s “Mercurial Passages,” is one of the most atmospheric and disturbing death metal albums I’ve heard in a couple years.  This is one release you cannot miss out on.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Ouroborus
2. Out Of The Psychic Blue
3. Sea of Light
4. Perdition
5. Parasites
6. Dawnless Dreams
7. Mirror Horizon
Johnny Urnripper – Vocals, Guitars
Ian J. D’Waters – Instrumentals
Gassy Sam – Vocals (Lead)
Record Label: 20 Buck Spin


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