Ghost Brigade – Until Fear No Longer Defines Us

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: July 25, 2011

There are many metal albums that grab you by the throat from the opening notes, establishing their agenda of auditory pillage and plunder immediately. It’s not often that an album in this genre sidles up to the listener, as seductive and deceptive as a mythological trickster god with a very specific agenda.

Ghost Brigade’s latest, and highly anticipated, offering, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us, is downright sneaky. Opener “Into The Woods” is a delicate acoustic piece that lulls and soothes, leading one to expect something along the lines of Drudkh or Alcest, but with slightly frostier Finnish guitars.

The second track, “Clawmaster,” turns on the listener suddenly, like a great cat that was purring a moment suddenly becoming predatory. The transition is jarring, like a blow, something to brace against; it changes the tone and feel of the listening experience, forcing you to be on guard and pay attention.

The rest of the album varies in terms of aggression. Sometimes Until Fear No Longer Defines Us stalks the listener right from the beginning, with urgent rhythms and growling vocals, like on “Traces of Liberty.” At other moments, it returns to a sweeter, subtler approach, like at the beginning of the massive “Soulcarvers,” gradually building to a powerful crescendo. It’s an album that keeps you on your toes, never letting you get comfortable, even making me feel like it was toying with me.

The drumming is forceful and crash-heavy, the guitar work uniformly dense and rich. Vocalist Manne Iconen has a surprisingly tender lilt to his voice that complements the gentle acoustic strings and contrasts the heavy low end. Their overall sound is emotive and atmospheric, incorporating the heaviness of doom and thickness of sludge while allowing an alternative rock influence to brighten and lift their music. The result is Ghost Brigade joining a select coterie of bands that define their sound, rather than being a composite of their influences.

Until Fear No Longer Defines Us is an excellent example of doom-influenced depressive rock. While Ghost Brigade take pleasure in complexity, density and even a little trickery, the emotional authenticity and genuine atmosphere of this album shine through.

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