STRANGE TRIPS (PART 2): GHOSTS OF ATLANTIS (“188.8.131.52”) AND TIDES OF KHARON (“TITANOMACHY”)
(DGR has been spending his listening time with some strange musical creatures and has offered his thoughts about them in a two-part collection of reviews, of which this is the second. Go here to check out Part 1.)
GHOSTS OF ATLANTIS: 184.108.40.206
At this point in my metal fandom I think its safe to admit that there will always be room in my heart for something a little more theatrical when it comes to music. I’m a sucker for things appearing larger than life, buried in bombast, and suffocated by symphonics. If you’re incredibly ambitious and it seems like you may be swinging for the fences on even your first release and coming off just a little bit campier than expected, then you’ll probably have someone who enjoys what you’ve got right here.
Of course all those things don’t necessarily have to apply, so they can be larger than life without having the veneer of a B-grade horror movie, but sometimes the stars align just so that I can’t help but be attracted to it. Like I said, a larger-than-life spectacle can often be just as interesting for me in the world of the extreme, which is how I landed at the debut album from Ghosts of Atlantis.
Outside of the initial eyebrow raise upon seeing someone once involved with Extreme Noise Terror in the lineup, the crew in Ghosts Of Atlantis and steering the good ship through its debut album 220.127.116.11 makes a perfect sort of sense. Almost all one needs to say is that this project is a new symphonic death metal act and one of the guys in the lineup is also part of Devilment, and you’ll get a knowing nod as to just how theatrical and huge Ghosts Of Atlantis will sound on their first disc.
Armed with a two-pronged vocal attack consisting of frontman Phil Primmer and guitarist Colin Parks for reinforcement, Ghosts Of Atlantis bash through a variety of styles. While they mainly favor a mid-ranged yell, whenever the opportunity presents itself they don’t hesitate to bring in some faux-operatic and near-choral clean singing, with the other half often picking up a solid low yell underneath to fill out the space. The constant changing between different vocal styles is just one way Ghosts Of Atlantis play up how huge their music is, while most of the heavy lifting is done by a lot of backing symphonic work and a humongous wall of guitars.
Saying that there’s a fair amount of melodic lines present here that will get caught in your mental net for days is putting it lightly. I feel like the vocal lines that dash in and out of the three minutes and twenty seconds of “Poseidon’s Bow” have been stuck in my head since I drunkenly stumbled into this album with the grace of a cannon ball launched into a furniture store in late March. It’s not often the different website-based algorithms manage to land one squarely on me, but Ghosts Of Atlantis certainly did.
Other interesting pathways through the halls of Atlantis include the three songs that were released as singles ahead of the album. Two of them – “Halls Of Lemuria” and “The Third Pillar” – lead off the album as a whole and “The Lost Compass” closes out the whole affair. While the first two do a ton of the legwork in establishing the sort of adventure that 18.104.22.168 is going to present, “The Lost Compass” is an excellent reprisal and tie-off of everything that happened in the densely packed half-hour or so between the bookending moments.
Even though there’s only eight songs present on 22.214.171.124, the album still punches in at a weighty forty minutes, which is easy to do when your tracks start easily reaching five minutes or more in length, with the aforementioned “Poseidon’s Bow” being the only lightweight at a little over three. Most discs like this tend to have incredibly densely packed songs where everything and the kitchen sink will happen within that five-plus minutes, but that’s not the case here. Instead, the songs were written to be huge from the get-go, and the constant rediscovery lies more in finding melodic lines and grooves you might’ve missed the first time while you were swept up with something else in a song.
As a debut album, 126.96.36.199 is already immense. Ghosts Of Atlantis pack a whole lot of ceremony and stagecraft into those forty minutes of time. As a proof of concept alone, the band succeed on multiple fronts, and the ever-shifting vocal work and backing symphonics stack very well on top of the groovier and percussive metal that is the bedrock of the band. The group rarely go for full-on intensity or overwhelming bombast, which is a much different tack from many of their symphonic-death-oriented brethren, but they make full use of everything available to them.
188.8.131.52 can eventually feel like it’s about to get a little long in the tooth, but it seems like even the band recognized that, because soon after beginning to get that feeling the album’s final song was spinning up. There’s definitely room for a whole lot of interesting pathways to be explored and ideas hinted at throughout the group’s debut, and this is just a promising first step into something that could show itself to be worth watching closely indeed.
TIDES OF KHARON: TITANOMACHY
While we’re in the world of Greek mythology why don’t we just make a lateral step, genre-wise, and a leap across the ocean, band-location-wise, and arrive at the door step of Canada’s melodeath crew Tides Of Kharon and their second EP Titanomachy.
Never let it be denied that the larger-than-life characters of Greek mythology are the gift that keeps on giving, as the subject matter has proven fruitful for many a group over the years. Hell, if France’s brutal death metal crew Kronos could manage to choke four albums out of it over the course of a twenty-something-year career, then Tides Of Kharon should find themselves with absolutely no shortage of material to fling themselves around in.
Released at the tail-end of March, Titanomachy is one of the more recent things to have crossed the on-fire/not-on-fire metaphor that is my writer’s desk. It has a lot of the hallmarks of a younger group that have been steadily hammering away at their own mark on the music scene. It’s difficult these days for a band to stand out – especially in a genre like melodeath, whose thrashier DNA can often wind up with groups straddling weird genre-lines (and Tides Of Kharon is no exception) – but this band’s steady approach has shown each attempt getting stronger each time.
Much like the Ghosts Of Atlantis debut they’re paired with in this article, if nothing else the band certainly show a whole lot of promise. Right now though, you may find yourself drawing some interesting if not strange comparisons; more often than not I found myself comparing vocalist Garrett Nelson‘s low bellows and vacuum-like draw of air to that of Greek melodeath/doom hybrid Aetherian’s vocalist Panos Leakos – which is something you only get to say when you’ve inhabited this weird corner of the internet for as long as yours truly has.
Where Titanomachy does have an interesting trait – and yes, it’s one we often point out because it stands in stark contrast to what one might consider a more traditional album flow – is that of the five songs, the ones that raised ears a bit were in the back, starting with the EP’s longest song “Sentinels Of Stone”. Most of Titanomachy’s tracks stay within a comfortable four-to-five minute range, but “Sentinels Of Stone” stretches its wings and goes for nearly six-and-a-half minutes.
Of course I must own up to the fact that “Sentinels Of Stone” plays out like two different songs as it slows down a little bit in the back half, after an opening segment filled with some late-’90s/early-aughts melodeath-as-all-hell guitar work, Same thing with follower “Kronos Descends”, which is more neatly packaged at a little over four, but damn if you don’t immediately have some quick flashbacks to some of Dark Tranquillity‘s works post-Damage Done with the main melodic line of that song.
Titanomachy travels across some familiar wastes, but the band have studied them well and play them just as dangerously well. Tides Of Kharon find themselves standing on the aforementioned fine line between a handful of different genres, but the oft-deployed mid-tempo rumble of the first couple of songs into the faster movements of the back half of Titanomachy places them pretty comfortably in the melodeath realm.
So far, this is only the Tides Of Kharon team’s second EP, and already – even with only one more song than their first EP Coins Upon Our Eyes – the band seem to be reaching further than before. If the future holds a full-length for them, then seeing just how they plan to break out more from a very crowded genre-sphere could be half the fun of looking into it.
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