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Ghostreaper – Straight out of Hell Award winner

Straight out of Hell
by Rachel Montgomery at 24 December 2019, 12:49 AM

GHOSTREAPER is the brainchild of Dusseldorf native and lead guitarist for VOODOMA, Mikk Hollenberg, and features over 10 international singers and performers. A concept album featuring a Wild West theme, this album takes traditional Western music and Heavy Metal and combines them with Progressive elements beautifully.

The opening song, “Sons of the Gun,” gives the album a folk feel, but also a western one. A blues opening with a rickety-sounding whistle is a unique opening. It is slow and folky before breaking into a traditional galloping melody, reminiscent of FLOGGING MOLLY. The instrumentation is on point, but the highlight is the smooth, operatic vocalist. The solo mimics a screeching train with the howl at the beginning and the whining sweeps in the middle.

The album is full of surprising tempo changes that serve to establish a narrative. However, they can take a while to get there. “High Noon” had such a long, slow opener that I thought they were choosing to put their slow song in the second slot, an unusual decision. The opener is lovely, featuring a piano and cello harmonies, and the vocal line sets up the main riff well. What we get for our wait is nothing short of bombastic, epic melodies and tight harmonies that showcase this song, early on, as one of the better ones.

Desperados” also features a thematic opening that brings us back to the Wild West theme with a high-noon standoff intro, leading the track into a darker, ominous, mid-tempo track. Similarly, the fifth track begins with a jangling acoustic beginning, but a shorter one, tying into the theme.

Red Moon Rising” strays into 1980s vibes, but with a Post-Punk/Goth opening leading into down-tuned guitars and an intense, but unusually upbeat take on the genre. Similarly, “Snakes & Slaves” uses haunting female vocals and takes some notes from EVANESCENSE for the song structure. “Darkness of Sin” employs an organ before rocketing into a powerful ballad, and then the female vocalist comes in with chops comparable to Tarja Turunen. It’s a standout change that empowers the song and distinguishes it off the album as one of the more intense tracks.

The closing song, aptly named “Farewell,” begins with a galloping melody similar to the first song, creating almost a bookend effect. The song employs interesting, subtle slow-downs in the first verse. However, it’s not as memorable as the first few songs. I wish they did more to make this song a symphony, especially since it’s the final impression the album gives us as listeners.

However, the album is a rocking ride and a well-executed concept album sure to delight Power Metal fans. I had a lot of fun listening to the various styles and musical compositions through this album. Plus, the fact they could unify all these different styles under one theme is incredibly impressive.

Songwriting: 10
Production: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Sons of the Gun
2. High Noon
3. Red Moon Rising
4. Desperados
5. Snakes & Slaves
6. Black Widow
7. House of Hell
8. Darkness of Sin
9. Straight out of Hell
10. Farewell
Mikk Hollenberg – Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Wolle Haitz – Drums
Deibys Artigas – Vocals on "Sons of the Gun" & "Red Moon Rising"
Sandra Bullet – Vocals on "Black Widow" & "Snakes & Slaves"
Eric Castiglia – Vocals on "High Noon," "Sons of the Gun" & "Farewell"
Onur Kaplan – Vocals on "Desperados"
Danny Kross – Vocals on "Snakes & Slaves"
Diane Lee – Vocals on "Darkness of Sin" & "House of Hell"
Laut Lindmae – Vocals on "House of Hell" & "Snakes & Slaves"
Jordy Noran – Vocals on "High Noon"
Michael Thionville – Vocals on "Darkness of Sin"
Evgen Zoidze – Vocals on "Straight out of Hell" & "Snakes & Slaves"
Record Label: Pride and Joy Music


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Edited 09 December 2022

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