Ghast - May the Curse Bind
Todestrieb Records
5 songs (43:11)
Release year: 2008
Official myspace, Todestrieb Records
Reviewed by Charles
Archive review
This is something I stumbled across recently, a little late, but I think it is worth bringing to the attention of the wider Metal Reviews readership. Ghast are a Welsh band that vomit forth relentlessly ugly music with a decidedly retro feel, generally ultra-primitive black metal in origin but polluted somewhat by other equally rudimentary influences. In fact, nearly every inch of 2008's May the Curse Bind is smeared with fistfuls of stinking doom, perhaps of the kind that trudged sadly out of Yorkshire two decades ago, the early years of My Dying Bride and the like. The band has a mini CD apparently due for release very shortly, so perhaps there is something timely about this review after all.

Its defining characteristic is its sound, which is deep, faded, and very unclean. Every note here is suffused with rumbling, scuzzy heaviness. The bass clunks gloomily around like an unhappy warthog, and the guitars appear like a mummified Obituary that has been decaying slowly for several millennia. Despite all this, their entire approach to metal is actually quite a novel one: the sound they produce using the idioms of black metal and the slow tempos and dismal moods of rough and ready doom-death is something you don’t hear every day.

The five songs here, all almost ten minutes long, manage to teeter between the blackly menacing and the darkly groovy. Picture a black metal tremolo blast. Now imagine it delivered in the deathly, flatulent guitar tone described in the previous paragraph. Despite the almost lethargic, undead feel, this gathers admirable pace and intensity. But it needs to draw wheezily to regular rest, and so now picture this blast stumbling regularly into galumphing passages of down tempo head-noddery. Sometimes the latter can be wonderfully mean, like the thunderous opening to Give Your Wrists. Put this way it sounds bipolar, but if my description so far has led you to assume this is some kind of fusion band, crazily melding different metals in an underground basement like some mad scientist’s folly, think again. It flows together… gracefully is obviously the wrong word... It is more like a pleasing mulch of different types of rotten vegetable forming a pungent compost.

If anything deviates from this quite successful template, it is Pale Robe. This track strides determinedly into the hostile territory of what we might call depressive/suicidal black metal. A (suitably) depressing chord progression is looped relentlessly at a crawling tempo and despair-filled vocals wail hoarsely. It is very well-handled and adds an unexpected depth to the album, suggesting that Ghast have a few more tricks up their sleeve. This comes highly recommended for admirers of extreme metal, stripped back to its roots and with no pretensions of technicality or the avant-garde.

Killing Songs :
Pale Robe, Crawl, Blighted and Afraid
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Ghast that we have reviewed:
Ghast - Dread Doom Ruin reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
Ghast - Terrible Cemetery reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
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