Prog-Metal and prog-rock tend to get thrown around a lot these days, with many of the new bands growing up with massive prog bands such as Dream Theater being their influence, flaunting and showing their chops with six string arpeggio sweep picking techniques, odd time signatures and a massive amount of chops in the riffage department. This can lead to great music but also to undeniable wankery and pretentiousness that can cause any amount of cohesiveness to be lost in translation.
There is the flip side to this coin, where there is a vast amount of musicianship, but song craft and layers are used, creating a sound that is vastly under rated and under appreciated. The band Zombi comes to mind, the duo who create prog-rock as a love letter to the 1980’s horror movies that we all love and cherish, where sounds come together to create an amazing sound wholly reminiscent while also being entirely their own.
The band Ghost Against Ghost fall in to the latter category, while dabbling in the first category, but in a good way. The brainchild of a man named Christopher Bono, a classically trained musician who also provides synths, guitars, programming as well as mixing and engineering AND creates classical albums on the side, he is aided by Thomas Pridgen (The Mars Volta, Trash Talk) on drums, and Anthony Molina (Mercury Rev) on guitars.
This album, STILL LOVE, or what I have heard, is actually pretty good. Bono utilizes synth to good use, creating sounds and noises that help to create the mood and also layers them to help create lush sounds. The drumming is on point, not being overly complex and holding the pocket very well, but with enough technicality to stand out. It sort of reminds me of Dave Witte, a great drummer who serves any band he is in, but not his ego. The guitars do their part and help to add to the music, using effects, sometimes a lot, to help accentuate Bono’s vision for the music, helping it and not hindering.
The unfortunate thing about this is 2 fold. I have only heard roughly 5 minutes of it, as the email I receive sends me to a preview page. I decided on YouTube as my version of previewing it, as I don’t use Spotify, Deezer, and do not have ITunes, as I can’t and won’t buy an IPhone. This led me to the video above. That is all I had to base this review on. Is it troubling? Yeah. I want to hear the entire EP, the full album, to review it. This 5 minutes is a teaser, as I would like to hear where the song takes me; the ebb and flow of it, what it is trying to say, everything. Alas, that was too good to be true, like many of the super groups I have hope for, with them soaring high and instead grazing the ground in their flight, much like Icarus.
The other is that the preview was posted in 2015. The EP was supposed to be out in 2017 according to the website. That is quite the gestation period, and it lead me to wonder if there were changes made in the time between the posting of the preview and the finished product. Sort of like knowing you have to drop a deuce, you know what it is you have to do but not knowing the finished product until you are done.
Could I have searched more? Yeah, I’ll admit that, as a reviewer I can suck, and I procrastinate like a bastard, but much of this has to do with my job, as I deal with emergencies, and that takes precedence, so I’ll apologize.
And then, a light from the heavens came in the form of a man named Lane Oliver, our lovable baby faced editor I affectionately call “J.J.” Through his persistence, and my explanation via the above review of a preview, I was able to get a complete review copy of the album (and he offered me a Christmas present to boot as part of an apology! I declined the present as I get to write reviews for this site, at times that are accommodating to me, even at a struggling pace.) Life lesson kids: Human services is paperwork, a metric shit ton of it, but goddamn if that doesn’t give you time to listen to amazing albums and become awash in a sea of music instead of a sea of miserable human shit, sometimes literally!
That being said, this album is actually good. It stands like my original review of a preview, in that it is a well written, well orchestrated piece of an album. The preview gave a glimpse, and the album is fully showing of the skill to create compositions that a classically trained composer could make effortlessly. That it took the man two years to bring it out shows dedication, even after the aforementioned tragedies that besiege the gentleman’s personal life. The synths and the effects work well together, working together and weaving together to create music while wholly being their own. It is quite nice to hear someone actively work on something like this. The vocals are mostly harmonies, but are amazingly well done and fit the songs so well. There is almost a menacing edge to everything, a forlorn and longing tinge to all of it. This is why a preview wasn’t good, but the full album was needed: the final product had probably evolved due to that 2 years of time.
This was a nice change of pace, and I know that it isn’t for everyone, but it is an album you can lose yourself in. Personally, this is something I would put on for art work and for paperwork on long haul drives that remind me to play Botch’s “Afghamistam” on at least once as yellow lines pass me by and I ride in to a pensive yet beautiful sunset for parts unknown. Is it for everyone? No. Is it perfect? No. But if you like post rock and synths, sort of like Between the Buried and Me’s quiet parts with more synths, or rather Devin Townsend’s softer more pop driven stuff, then this may be up your alley
Release Date: April 14, 2017 (better late than never
Label: Our Silent Canvas
Favorite Track: the title track “still Love
For Fans of : Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Zombi, Explosions In The Sky, quieter more synth driven Between the Buried and Me parts, Devin Townsend softer stuff