Misdirection. Sleight of hand. Tools used to create confusion often, and especially so, in the name of showmanship. This type of confusion that has fueled many a magic act over the years and a variant of it is on display on Ghastly Sound’s self-titled EP. There are times that bands span genres and styles over the course of their career to keep fans slightly off-balance but rarely do bands try that on an album, let alone an EP. Ghastly Sound says “hold our drink” and proceed over the course of four songs to throw a lot of influences and ideas at the wall on their debut.
The thing about turning the audience one way and then another is that you can potentially lose them. Some artists who do this well use a variety of tools to keep the mark from straying too far. Ghastly Sound employ bombast to stun the listener into lingering but for all their low-end thunder and bluster here there’s a band percolating on possibly too many ideas to cram into such a short release. They wind up trying on more hats in a compressed space than Clark Kent. In a way this is sort of the TGIFriday’s sampler of an upcoming groove metal band that hops around the map on its influences proudly cranking the volume and production on their interpretations of the form.
“The Worst” is a hard charging introduction to the band that lies somewhere between Sleep-worship and Dio or some of the more aggressive moments in Tony Iommi’s catalog. Whereas “Where the Ghosts Hide” sees the band dropping into a lower gear that finds itself feeling something like P.O.D. and CKY meeting in a knife fight with some spacey elements not entirely unlike later Monster Magnet. Both of these tracks are very loud in all elements and the band use it to their advantage but it’s clear that vocalist Tyler Gurwicz aims for that “in your face” style that can distract a bit from what the rest of the band is doing.
Ryan Lewis and TJ Maynard are pretty outstanding here, if not entirely earth shattering, in the portrayal of Ghastly Sound. It’s hard to tell over the course of the four tracks here whether they named the band based on their sound or what but the argument could certainly be made. “Cape Buffalo” and “Cuttlefish” see the band stretch a little more with the former showing hints of their Unsane influence while the latter wrestles through sludge with ghosts of White Pony-era Deftones.
All that said, there are some really great, promising riffs here that get a big boost from the real star of the show here: the production. The band get a lot of mileage from a dense, bass-heavy wall of sound that is just clean enough to tell what Lewis is up to most of the time. Everything about these four songs says to me that it will be popular. However, it doesn’t feel like the band have yet found their specific niche. If they can sustain this kind of power over the course of a full-length then they really might be onto something. For now, this EP demonstrates how powerful thunderous riffing given a proper (if not slightly embellished) production benefits a band with as much happening in their bass-heavy sound that seems intent on splitting worlds.
You can check out the new Ghastly Sound EP at their bandcamp page.