The Bottom by Ghastly SoundRelease date: December 15, 2017
Label: Magnetic Eye Records
It’s always fun to be smacked across the brain with a hearty punch of noisy goodness by music that you can’t slot into a genre. Just think what people thought when they first came across Sepultura’s Roots (“it’s metal, but it has a groove… so what can I call it?”) or even Fugazi’s first EP (“it sounds like punk but those arty parts confuse me…”).
And you get the same sorts of thoughts when Ghastly Sound stomps over your speakers. For a start, their sound is not Ghastly, any more than The Sword’s is sharp. They are noisy, make no mistake. They have the visceral oomph of hardcore, with a metallic edge and a sprinkling of 1990s punk anthemic melody wrapped up in Unsane-style noise rock. So what to call it?
How about just “outstanding”?
Because it is. Ghastly Sound, a three-piece of vocals, bass and drums from the gorgeous eastern US state of Vermont, have a sound all their own. And damn, it is good.
Luckily for us, they are prolific as well as talented; this is their second EP in the space of 10 months, following their self-titled debut, which was also on Magnetic Eye. And it is a distinct progression from their first EP, as you can hear from the opening bars of the opening song, ‘Waves’.
I’ll be honest: ‘Waves’ stopped me in my tracks with its frankly enormous chorus, highlighting vocalist Tyler Gurwicz’s ability – and courage – to hit the high notes in the cause of a monstrous earworm of a song. It is one of the most rousing songs I have heard this year.
The title track follows and it showcases some of Ghastly Sound’s more brooding side, albeit with another hook that pretty much crushes you into submission. ‘Holy Serpent’ seamlessly mixes time signatures and clean-and-dirty vocal styles in a three-minute maelstrom, while ‘Deadtooth’ contains some cinematic modern-metal bellows. ‘Sink’ rounds out the EP with an angry stomp and by the end of it you are left wanting more.
In fact, my main though after listening to this repeatedly was that if they are this good on only their second EP – nine songs into their career, to put it another way – imagine what they could do if they were given time and money to spend on an entire album. I would hypothesise that it would be epic, even if many may struggle to pigeon-hole it. But that is part of the fun with noisy music.
So it is up to us to make sure Ghastly Sound have the chance to make a full album: buy this record, it will benefit us all in the long run.