Ghost Bath – Starmourner

There’s no point starting anywhere else. If you can’t get past the vocals, this is not the album for you. And stating that is not just about addressing the elephant, or rather addressing the yelps of the goat being castrated in the room, it’s worth highlighting as it is achingly and obviously Ghost Bath’s “thing”. They don’t have vocals (or lyrics, even) in a traditional sense. They have the anguished yelps and howls of frontman Nameless. And if you can’t deal with that, no amount of all-consuming ambient meanderings, lush Cascadian post-blackened swathes, progressive indulgences or melodic expositions that occur under, over and around the wails is going to make this an album you can get on with.Continue reading

Zgard – Contemplation

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So, there you were, thinking that Eastern European Black Metal is just a load of one-man bedroom acts who own too many Burzum and Summoning albums, love to stand in the snow in animal furs and think that it’s their national prerogative to play a flute, regardless of skill. Well, you’d be right to an extent. For while Drudkh and Negura Bunget have made a name for themselves by actually branching out from their microscopic scenes and making good use of traditional instrumentation, you will always get acts like Zgard who are content to sticking to what they know. Thankfully, they happen to know a fair old bit, which is why Contemplation (Svarga) may well surprise you.

This sixty-two minute odyssey into Ukrainian forests may be one that listeners have taken before accompanied by the two big name artists mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of pretty sights to be seen along the way as the aptly named ‘Through the Forest’ proves with its rushing tremolo guitars, soaring melodies, mystical keyboards and subtle choral vocals. There’s echoes of revered artists such as Kroda reverberating through the trees and you soon get the impression that mainman Yaromisl has plenty more to show you, which he does with the crowd pleasing jig-along that pops up during ‘Highlands’ and the quirky polka mischief that opens ‘Incarnation Memory.’

It wouldn’t be an Eastern European BM album without an instrumental piece however and we get just that with the haunting and thoughtful ‘Silence’, which knocks the socks off the latest effort from Herr Vikernes. Not forgetting of course the frequent wind and rain sound effects to remind you just how cold it is behind the old iron curtain and you have everything you need and nothing you wouldn’t expect. Clichéd? Perhaps, but it’s a cliché with plenty of mileage left in it and while the forest is still this beautiful, it’s one that’s worth taking a stroll into.

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Cemetary Gates – An Interview With Mick O’Shea

Cemetary Gates 1Last month saw the release of Cemetery Gates – Saints & Survivors Of The Heavy-Metal Scene by Mick O’Shea. The book is a collection of portraits on the more notorious figures within the rock and metal scene who’s party antics became their undoing or at least affected their lives in a significant way. Ghost Cult caught up with the author himself to discuss the backgrounds of this rather disturbing collection of rock and roll tales.Continue reading

Burzum – Sôl Austan, Mâní Vestan

burzumsolaustan-e1369481679888Burzum is heralded as one of the black metal greats – however, Burzum and Varg Vikernes becoming household names within the metal community is undoubtedly for all the wrong reasons. If it’s not Varg’s incarceration for the murder of Mayhem’s Euronymous being talked about then it’s his far right political beliefs having the spotlight shone on them. If you were to actually put aside the infamous brand name that he has become, and pick carefully through his discography, you’d notice he hasn’t actually released anything groundbreaking since Filosofem back in 1996.Continue reading