After achieving recognition from the underground death metal community in 2018, Finland-based death metal act, Ghastly returns with a third album “Mercurial Passages” out on May 28h, 2021 via 20 Buck Spin. The Finnish trio Johnny Unripper (guitars, vocals), Ian J.D’Waters (guitars, bass, drums, and additional vocals), and Gassy Sam (lead vocals) set the bar even higher this time around. While still rooted in the cavernous old school death metal realm, the songwriting harks back to some of the elements of their sophomore album “Death Velour”. On “Mercurial Passages” the band take their craft into new musical dimensions. Its uncanny quality exposes fresh components and bewitching guitar patterns, where they have turned the creative inspiration into something viscerally intellectual.
Bearing some resemblance to bands such as Horrendous, Demilich, and Obliteration, the riffs are accessible as each track offers catchy leads and melodies. The guitar riffs on opening track “Ouroborus” are laden with slow crawling tempos of doom metal. The songs are clearly steered to mid-tempo death metal. The second track “Out of the Psychic Blue” begins with hammering drums and psychedelic guitar chords where the tempo slowly veers through twisted passages. Regardless of the intricacy of the songwriting, “Mercurial Passages” is utterly obscure and emphasizes a doomy atmosphere. Whereas the guitars provide many organic riffs, the songs are built to create a grotesque atmosphere. Although the band eschews repetitiveness, the guitars seemingly increase the effect of serpentine crawling riffs.
The perfect juxtaposition of the synth and dense riffing add an obscure touch. The melodic patterns of the guitar lines feel improvised on a number of tracks such as “Sea of Light”, which offers heavy guitar lines and deathly growls. Ghastly has a unique way of reshaping the song tempos and add a diversity in the rhythm and melodies from the guitars, whilst the songs showcase a spectrum of technicality and doom-induced riffs. Though the influences of Autopsy are undeniable throughout the album, Ghastly offers a visceral piece of death metal. The album cover artwork, illustrated by Riika Pesonen, works as a perfect theme for the otherworldly hallucinogenic style of the music. “Mercurial Passages” is textured with captivating guitars, although the songs aren’t too melodic they are seemingly arranged to provide the right atmosphere. For the kind of music that Ghastly creates, they show the ability to utilize tremolo-picked riffs whereas the thumping bass guitar and hammering drums are flawlessly executed, the tempo shifts from aggression to the slow nature of the doom metal like riffs.
Offering an array of eerie riffs on tracks like “Perdition”, there are many dark moments where the band showcases their musical progression. Comprised of seven tracks that redefine the uncanny component, Ghastly also takes many influences from bands like Entombed and Finnish old school death metal bands of the early nineties era. The serpentine song structure constantly unfolds a peculiar way of shifting from one tempo to another. “Parasites” is another twisted track that wanders through fast-paced tempos, the riffing is accompanied by blast beats then suddenly hits the tempo changes again. Albeit the stylish guitar take-offs and the swift guitar solo transitions are noteworthy to what the band is capable of.
The Finnish trio pushes boundaries by revealing new elements on “Dawnless Dreams”, which begins with blazing guitar riffs, the double bass builds a wall of sound and the melodic chords always have that touch of magic to them. Although the sound production is a bit muddy at times, each instrument including the bass guitar is audible and clear. Mostly the songs are textured with lush instrumentation in which the chords are combined to the sonic palette. “Mercurial Passages” has the grotesque-fashioned approach of Finnish death metal, with the scale demonstrating a high degree of flawless instrumentation.
While the songs aren’t necessarily energetic, they are driven by intricate guitar technique. Within its time length of forty minutes Ghastly will bring you into some kind of hypnotic trance. Ending with “Mirror Horizon”, the band offers deep visceral riffing that involves many guitar hooks, fully soaked in dark atmospheric rhythm and obscure undercurrent. From the musical form and the riffing structure, the Finnish trio has succeeded in conveying their mystifying trademark. “Mercurial Passages” is a hybrid melange of old school death metal and a psychedelic blend of unique compositions. Recommended for fans of Obliteration, Autopsy, and Demilich.
Release Date: May 28th, 2021
Label: 20 Buck Spin
- Out of the Psychic Blue
- Sea of Light
- Dawnless Dreams
- Mirror Horizon