Guided by Fire
, Ghost Brigade
's debut CD, establishes the Finnish band's style with confidence and power. Despite
some obvious influences from such doom and death metal bands as Insomnium
, Ghost Brigade
manages to separate itself with some trademarks that listeners will quickly come to recognize. At the same time the band avoids repeating itself, successfully keeping a consistent theme throughout without crossing the line into songs that all sound the same.
The album's genre is perhaps best summarized as "Melodic Doom
." The songs are not high tempo, nor are the vocals ever very quick. Instead, most of the album consists of a moderately paced and well flowing mixture of clean and growled vocals, very well composed guitar harmonies, and strong but not overpowering percussion. Both
styles of vocals are sung by the same person, and my best attempt at describing his singing is "beautifully in line with what one would imagine from a Viking
." His clean vocal range is fairly wide but impressively low, and his strength while singing helps the lyrics come out clear through the background. His growling is well enunciated but a little weak; sometimes it's overcome by the guitars. Despite
that his style stands out amongst the bands I've heard as consistent and recognizable.
Where the "Melodic" element comes in best is with the guitars. Whether through their knowledge of music theory or just intuitive brilliance, the band knows how to put together chords from the guitarists to create emotionally powerful harmonies. Often the vocals complement this to make it even more incredible. There are many instances (for example, the chorus in Deliberately or the breakdown in Based on You) where I would just close my eyes and absorb the delicious mixture of sound that is so calming and moving.
As for the lyrics, they are very effective at supporting the Doom
sound. The theme that stands out the most is nihilism, along with plenty of hopelessness and a smattering of hate. One of the nicest touches is that here and there, buried in between the lines, there's the tiniest bit of hope; an addition that will bring a bitter smile to your face. The verses are virtually all well written - occasionally you'll come across a line that may strike as childish-sounding, but even then it's not something that detracts very much.
If I were to pick out a weak point in this excellent composition, it would be the lack of technicality and experimentation. The songs in general stick to the common formula of roughly verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown or some similar variant. However I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, if you are not expecting complicated riffs or unusual structures; if you appreciate slow and powerful melodies and harmonies, as well as dark lyrics, you'll have a hard time finding something to dislike about the album.
This is not a headbanging album. This is a slow head-swaying album that works with your emotions much more than your body. Anyone with the patience and taste for this kind of slow-paced, lyrically dark, and harmonically beautiful music will not be disappointed. An excellent debut.