REVIEW: A Ghost Orchestra – Blood

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Since the release of their 2014 debut EP Vile Hymns, Adelaide locals A Ghost Orchestra have seen themselves tour Australia and open for some international heavy hitters, such as Cancer Bats and Every Time I Die. In the 3 years since the release of Vile Hymns, A Ghost Orchestra have been refining their sound and improving their songwriting skills, leading up to the release of their debut full-length Blood.

Blood sees A Ghost Orchestra expand on their more dissonant and chaotic tendencies they have previously shown, with feedback being almost a constant presence throughout, while introducing some more melodic elements to their sound. In many ways, Blood is a throwback to the mathier sound of the mid-2000s metalcore, such as Norma Jean, The Chariot and Every Time I Die, with off-kilter riffs, vicious breakdowns and raw production being the name of the game.

Opening with the introduction track Platform: 13216, A Ghost Orchestra make this sound apparent, with the track basically being a lumbering breakdown building tension before launching in Precursor, which immediately hits the listener in the face with pounding drumming, winding, dissonant riffs and the mid-range screams of Adam Geisler. Ultimately, Precursor is a snapshot of the album as a whole, effortlessly switching from dissonant, chaotic mathcore to more straightforward metalcore in the blink of an eye.

A Ghost Orchestra lean into their more dissonant, chaotic sound on tracks such as Bad Blood and Queenhell, being full of riffs that change speed and rhythm at a moments notice and feedback being used to give these tracks the feeling of unsettling tension, such as the buildup to the breakdown in Bad Blood. However, there are tracks on Blood, such as Heroin in Heaven and Gutterslang, which have a more straightforward feel to them, with the drumming being the propulsive force behind these types of songs and the riffs being more direct and driving in sound.

The main improvement from Vile Hymns is that the while the band uses stop and start rhythms, dissonance and technicality to give their music the sound that it could just fall apart any second, the band knows when to pull it all back into more structured territory and even have some calmer moments peppered throughout the album. These calmer moments are a new aspect A Ghost Orchestra have introduced to their sound on Blood, giving the album a bit of variety and dynamism to help prevent the album from blurring together and allows the heavier parts to hit even harder.

Throughout Blood, A Ghost Orchestra throw in some curve balls, such as the instrumental tracks Delving and Panspermia, which have a very bleak, empty sound to them and serve to break the album up, and sections such as the lone guitar introduction of Gutterslang and the female-led vocal part of Lovers of Valdaro.

Ultimately, Blood is A Ghost Orchestra stretching their muscles, pushing their music in more chaotic but also calmer territories.While their razor sharp riffs and the stop-start rhythms are still a massive part of their sound, A Ghost Orchestra bring a larger sense of dynamism to the their sound, with more melodic and straightforward moments present on this album, which leads to the band having a more unpredictable sound than ever before. Blood is a strong album for a recent band to have under their belt and will hopefully lead to bigger and better things for A Ghost Orchestra.

Rating: 7/10

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