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Ghostheart Nebula - Ascension Award winner

Ghostheart Nebula
Ascension
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 13 September 2021, 6:30 AM

GHOSTHEART NEBULA is a melodic/atmospheric doom metal band from Italy. "Ascension" is their full length debut; they also released an ep in 2018. "Ascension," is an impressive, emotionally charged doom metal album that hits all the right notes of the genre while offering plenty of variety within its own sound. Considering the length of the album (a little over an hour) and the structures of the songs, this album lays down a funeral doom template. Indeed, the band can be quite cavernous when they want to.

"Hikikomori," exemplifies that dimension well. The tone of the melodies is dark, marches by the deep vocals of Maurizio Caverzan. When the music grows more abstract and ambient at the 2:05 mark, the music falls even deeper into the depths, just at a different musical angle. With all that being said, "Ascension," is an album of dynamics and doesn't crawl through funeral darkness all the time. The opening track "Mira," has a cosmic feel to it with the way the keyboards build up the beginning moments. Being over eleven minutes long, I am really impressed with how smooth the song flows. The guitars and keys meld together, coloring the song with an expansive sound while the bass and drums drive it forward.

The guest vocals of Lucia Amelia Emmanueli are introduced at the right moment; the cosmic heaviness is moved aside for her vocals work which in turn makes an entry for Maurizio's vocals which are more clean this time but in the form of a struggling yell/shout which sounds very cool. But the centerpiece of the album is no doubt the epic title track, which is divided up into three parts.              "Pt 1: The Cosmic River," is the most immediate of the trilogy. It begins with clean instrumentation but quickly switches to death/doom. The song isn't particularly fast paced but the melodic bass injects some rolling groove and a sense of urgent danger.

The keyboards in-between the verses are gorgeous examples of how the instrument can work alongside others by both complimenting the song's atmosphere while being its own force to be reckoned with. The song becomes more harrowing when the double bass rips up the undercurrent from below and the death growls/screams attack from on high. Afterwards, the always stupendous Gogo Melone lends her style to the song, just upping it and making it even better. She does the cover art too and, of course, it is something to gawk at. With the death growls accompanying her, I am reminded of the best moments of Gothic doom—it is a style that rarely gets old and GHOSTHEART NEBULA nail it here by making it a part of their sound but never the sole focus. The song ends with the band suddenly speeding up and Maurizio screaming his face off until the ambient intro fades the song out.

"Pt II: My Burial Dream," is, as expected, a more morose track that is deep on the doom side of things. Low death growls and stark riffs lead continue to adorn the song until melody is birthed from it and the music switches to a clean passage before it all melds together again. At this point, the sorrow is almost palpable but the band handles it well, never getting lost within themselves. Instead they steer the ship into cosmic waters that sail through a kick ass guitar solos that ends the song with a bang.

Part III: Nebula” ends the album on a high note because I really feel this song takes all the best elements of the album and the band's style, putting it all together in a big way. Maurizio in particular gives an explosive performance, throwing his all into this final, cosmic adventure. Even though these last three parts have been the climax of the album, the halfway point of "Nebula" ups it again. Rapid fire yet crisp drums blaze through with the keys right along for the ride. As that passage ends, the guitars and bass blanket the song with darkness in which the death screams thrive in.

In the last couple minutes, the entire musical landscape just swirls together—as the album ends, I am exhausted yet exhilarated. GHOSTHEART NEBULA's "Ascension" is quite the surprising debut album and a doom laden cosmic journey that every fan should take. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best records to be released in Black Lion's history.

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

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Mira
2. Chrysalis
3. Hikikomori
4. The Cage
5. Ascension Pt. I Cosmic River
6. Ascension Pt. II My Burial Dream
7. Ascension Pt. III Nebula
Lineup:
Nick Magister - Guitars
Bolthorn - Bass
Maurizio Caverzan - Vocals
Panta Leo - Drums
Aron Corti - Guitars
Record Label: Black Lion Records
     


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