Warthrone- Ghoststorm Eulogy
Band Homeland: USA
Band Homepage: http://www.warthrone.net/
Label Homepage: links through Warthrone homepage
Released in 2005 by new label Ghoststorm Records, “Ghoststorm Eulogy” is the first album by Warthrone, but certainly not the first album experience of any of the members that make up the band. With resumes that reach back well over a decade and includes the likes of Dying Fetus and Witch-Hunt, it’s not unreasonable to expect that a collaboration of this caliber would create something amazing.
And that they have.
Consisting of 6 songs with a total playing time of 25:14, “Ghoststorm Eulogy” is an all-out attack on the preconceived notions of what American Black Metal sounds like. Stepping over the bonds of staying “true” to the USBM scene (i.e. low-budget kvlt recording or Scandinavian copycats), Warthrone unleashes their own genuine brand of Black Metal with an absolute declaration of independence. The roots of influence that come forth on this album are apparent in the form of genre only. If I were challenged with defining their sound by comparing them to another single band, I could not. And it would be unfair to do so. Comparisons can be made within the measure of a few beats, but the sound of Warthrone is truly their own.
Normally, I would start out with the guitar work in my dissection of the overall sound as I am a guitarist myself and tend to favor guitarists with preferential treatment (at least I admit to my biases). But on this album, I absolutely have to bow before the overpowering and absolutely crushing onslaught of the drums. The drum work on this album (Erik Sayenga) is amazing in every aspect. Speed, intensity, variety, creativity… in every single song it blows me out of my chair and makes me thrash my head in disbelief. It is simply inhuman. From blistering blastbeats to the hammering thunder of relentless doublekick, this is amazing! It is chaotic energy harnessed and controlled into a sharp focus and applied in the most aggressive manner possible. In short, it’s brutally intense. I could rant about this for another 2 paragraphs, so I’m going to stop here.
One could fairly expect that after such a tirade, the musical aspects of the album that follow it would be diminished. Not so. If they do, it’s by comparison only. The drumming really is that good. But good drumming alone does not make an album… which brings me to the guitar work (also done by Sayenga). It is varied and creative in both sound and application. In all aspects, it is powerful. Driving rhythms carry the direction of the song, tight ripping leads punctuate the atmosphere, single-string runs lend melody and harmony, and I was quite pleased to find a couple hints of old Witch-Hunt tossed in. Guitar work on this album is top-notch.
I’m going to put the bass and keys into one paragraph here. Not because they are any less deserving, but because they lay a symbiotic foundation to the sound, and also because they are both performed by the same musician (Kristel). The bass is thickly evident throughout the album, deep and rumbling with a sonic resonance that made my speakers shake. In parts it is profiled as an individual run, and the tone is awesome. This is what bass is supposed to sound like. The keys are a complete opposite, adding a diaphanous atmosphere that is almost spiritual in effect. But as lilting as they may appear at times, there is a very dark side to them that adds a feeling of foreboding and gloom to the song. The tone of the keys is excellent, and their presence is perfectly placed in the mix.
The vocals (Richard Johnson) are no less varied than the music they accompany. Deep and guttural growls, harsh angry roars, and strangled shrill screams cover the extreme Metal genre from Brutal Death to Necro Black. The range is impressive. The vocals are layered in places so deep growls crawl underneath pitched agonized wails. Lyrically, the vocals are dark and very angry. At face value, they are a collection of horrific imagery. When viewed as metaphors, they are even more disturbing.
As a whole, “Ghoststorm Eulogy” is energetic, interestingly composed, well engineered, and without a doubt one of the best freshman releases I’ve heard from a band in years. In fact, my only complaint on the entire effort is the almost impossible to read liner notes. The font is downright annoying and way too much text is jammed into too small of a space, making the liner very difficult to read. Or maybe I’m just getting old? Ha. But hey, if that’s the only thing I can find to bitch about, you can bet that this album is totally worth getting. I hope to hear a LOT more from this band in the coming years.
1- Bloodfrozen Effigy