03. The Boss Level
You may know Anup Sastry as the drummer of bands such as Skyharbor and Intervals. He has also been a guest drummer for Ex-Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis. Those are some big names, and the only reason why he is such a famous drummer is because Anup Sastry is a phenomenal musician and a man of many talents. Ghost is Anup Sastry’s debut album that brings his drum mastery to the forefront. With his debut, Sastry has shown us that multi-instrumentalism is the way of the future. No longer are you required to rely on how efficient you are at playing an instrument perfectly, but rather how well you can convey across what you write. However, regardless of Sastry’s obvious technical proficiencies, Ghost is a creatively weak album that rehashes the same old djent making Ghost an overambitious effort where Sastry takes ideas from other bands he plays for like Skyharbor and Intervals, yet brings nothing new to the table. This makes Ghost a tiresome listen that tries to go beyond certain conventions of djent, yet conforms to quite a few in the process.
What has to be the biggest disappointment with the album is Sastry’s paper thin guitar tone. Djent being based on the thundering sounds of down-tuned seven and eight string guitars is what gives it the heaviness that bands such as Meshuggah are able to conjure up, yet Sastry’s guitar tone delivers no such punch. There is a very valid reason as to why it sounds that way. All the guitars and bass are programmed.
In this regard, Ghost can be referred to as “reverse-djent,” where the drums are real and the guitars and the bass are … well, fake. It’s hard to tell at times that the guitars and the bass aren’t real since they mesh so well with the drums, but if you’re familiar with how certain studio techniques can be utilized to record and edit to make it sound perfect, it won’t take you long to notice. As far as the bass is concerned, it’s supposed to be one of the instruments that enhances and amplifies drumming by adding to the groove, but unfortunately it gets drowned down in the sound of all the guitars and cymbals, making it seem non-existent on the record.
As this is djent, Anup also takes quite a lot of influence from some of the pioneers of the genre. ‘Reflex’ has a math-y style to it, reminiscent of Sikth, whereas the riff on the title track ‘Ghost’ sounds a lot like Meshuggah’s ‘Bleed’ with the triplets being fired off in almost the same pattern. If nothing, it sounds more like a futuristic version of ‘Bleed’ with the synths playing in the background.
For a one-man project, this is a really good album. The most remarkable part of the record is Anup Sastry doing what he’s famous for — drums. The drumming on the record is impeccable, which comes as no surprise. Sastry, being primarily a drummer, knows how to write intricate grooves. The only thing that can be considered at fault would be how machine-like and mechanical it feels.
The problem with djent today is the lack of innovation within the genre. With mostly rehashed riffs and no new ideas, the genre has become rather boring. Sadly, Ghost falls victim to the same. The album tries to utilize new ideas but gets lost within the constant boring riffage similar to Monuments, old-school Cloudkicker and Hydrodjent (a.k.a. Keshav Dhar). Even his bandmate from Skyharbor, Keshav Dhar, has stopped writing such riffs and evolved, going the way of Tesseract with adding layers upon layers of ambient tracks to make his songs more interesting. Though the synths on Ghost add quite a lot of flavour to the tracks, Anup Sastry’s attempt at ambiance is nothing more than a few keyboard plays in the background that don’t seem to add much to the atmosphere other than a superfluous electronic feel.
In closing, Ghost is an admittedly underachieving and ultimately underwhelming debut album by a truly gifted musician that seems to be trying too hard to write overtly groovy djent. One can appreciate the dedication to the admittedly-catchy grooves, but there’s a limit to how much djent one can djent.
Anup Sastry – Ghost gets…