Review: Ghost brigade – Until fear no longer defines us: Collectors edition

Cover art by the band itself.

I originally intended to write a multi review of Opeth- and machine head’s newest releases, Heritage and Unto the locust, but as the relatively large box got to my doorstep, ten days earlier than when they all three should have arrived, I decided against it.

As I was analyzing the neat box’s content, I found a piece of paper with all the member’s individual signatures – which made my day.

Even though there cardboard box it wrapped for protection was about four times the mass of the actual box I bought – It’s still fairly large, as I said before. The cover art of the CD is the same as the box, which is why the box now stands proud at the top of my desk. The cover art really sets a mood – A mood that isn’t bad, but rather neutral/good. It makes me smile, and which cannot be a bad this, no matter how you look at it. Peace at heart – That what it gives.

Anyway; I took the content out, to get a nice look at it. As I couldn’t really remember what the content list said, so I gave it a sorting. The box contained:

  • One lengthy bracelet-thingy, made of black leather, engraved with the lines “Ghost brigade”, and “Until fear no longer defines us” – All in capital letters.
  • The actual CD (Of course) made of cardboard, nicely designed, like Season of the mist is usually doing a great job at – Especially with the album Absolute design, from Engel.
  • A T-shirt, again with the band-name on it, and a bird with an anchor on the back. I chose the size XL, mostly because such T-shirt can be a lot smaller than those two letter suggest. (And the fact that I’m a chubby lad *Giggles*) It seems far too big though, so keep that in mind.
  • Three badges, medium/small sized. One with the anchor bird, one with the album title, and one that simply says “Ghost brigade”. Two of them now rest nicely on my awesome Peak beanie.
  • As I said before: The autograph from all the band members.
  • Two pointless flyers from Season of the mist, featuring some merchandise from bands I don’t really like – which renders it worthless to me.
  • Bubble-wrap… I love bubble-wrap.

That was pretty much it, which is more than enough for just four-hundred  Danish kroner – now let me review the actual music:

Ghost brigade has really improved on the melodical part, and by that I mean they’ve reached a point of mastery for mixing melodies together. Breakwater – song number seven – Is probably one of the best examples on their improved melodies. It features light, high-pitched guitar sounds to aid the heavy power-chords. The drums follows along quite well, almost beating the riff into shape, in a manner of speaking.

One of the things about Ghost brigade I love the most, is the divine balance between acoustic, and almost spine-shivering clear tones, against the deep, dark and heavy riffs. I know that just saying it make it sound like every other metal band, but you’ll have to look deep to find a band that falsifies my statement. To explain that, you’ll have to take listen to my favourite song on the album; Chamber. It doesn’t feature the heaviest side of the band, like the single – Clawmaster – does, but still delivers the fell that is the full potential of their crystal-clear tones.

To be a little critical; It still feels like they are a little scared to experiment with their style, leaving behind music that doesn’t have as much variety as I’ve hoped. As song are getting more powerful, they are still doing it a little too slow.

To keep the focus on the experimental; I’ll like to note that the song 8’th song, Cult of decay, surprised me. Mostly with the strangely muted guitar sound, that carries the song almost as much as the drums of the track. The song could be easily be defined with the word “intriguing”, and gives plenty of time to clear you head before Torn, which is one of the heaviest songs on the album, yet still a great step softer than the fourth song, Traces of Liberty.

Soulcarvers brings back memories from my favourite track on their second album, Isolation songs. Soulcarvers ends the album with both grace, and power. Leaving you with feelings, rather than a hastily muted chord. Even Manne’s voice kept the tone in my head for a half minute after the the album ended – A marvellous ending.

Back to the other end of the album. Out of choice, I didn’t want to hear the songs before I got the album, and boy that intro song caught my attention. It’s one of those beautiful, sad songs that make you stand still, and look another human being’s eye to stare in. Not one of those that’ll make you cry inside (In the good way, I mean) It’s one of those that make you sit down, and close your eyes – Much like the camp fire in the middle of a forest. Maybe that correlation isn’t random, as the name of the song is ‘In the woods’ after all.

Time for a breakdown of the review, and some numbers:

Variety – 7/10

As I mentioned; there isn’t much variety from the previous albums, the song of the album however, is spread nearly perfectly across the whole album. It’s a shame that the lack experimenting drags it down. Both bass and vocals is nearly the same as before, that’s not entirely a bad thing though. The drums is the most improved part of the album, and really shows an all out performance.

Sound – 9/10

The sound of this album delivers, and by sound I mean Volume, clipping, mixing and tone. As I said – The sound and tone of this album is crystal clear, and gives you a feel of being surrounded by every little sound it spews at me, which is nothing but a good thing. It would have got ten if it wasn’t for a sometimes flat tone in the heavy part, although it’s not that noticeable.

Lyrics – 8/10

I know a lot of people who’ll greatly disagree with me that the lyrics of a song matter, but as I see it; lyrics is the question, while the song is the answer. Another thing is that lyrics is also how the the lyrics is sung – how it’s integrated in the song. All is good on the lyrics front, but tend to be a little depressing. Manne did a wonderful job at delivering both growl and clean vocals. The only problem here is that the variety of the growl seems a little unnatural at times, not giving at a proper flow.

Melody – 8/10

I’ve mentioned it a couple of times by now, and both rhythm and beat is improved by far. Both guitar and drums gives a whole new dynamic to the album. There’s not really anything to pick on, thus it’s better than good – above average. But if I should complain about anything, regarding the melody, it would be that even though the melody is great, it isn’t really displayed correctly. Though it’s almost impossible to notice without keeping it in mind.

Overall – 8/10

Great album. A little the same, and yet bloody beautiful. Delivers both hard and soft. Though the soft tend to carry the heavy part. The heavy riffs sounds more thought through than the previous releases. An almost must buy for people wanting peace at heart, but still keep themselves awake.

And two ratings that doesn’t get counted together with the overall score:

Artwork – 8/10

Even though the cover art sets the mood for the whole album, it still feel like more of a beautiful picture, than a beautiful piece of art. And the fact that the booklet only contains a black background and white text, with the cover art on the other side, disappoints me a little, but the cover art is still fantastic, so it doesn’t matter that much.

Extras – 10/10

Going only by the fact that this is the limited collectors edition, it’s one of the best I’ve even seen yet. Everything seems high quality, even the box. And because you also get the autograph from all the band member, gives it a colossal boost towards the better. The price is also really good for the content. I’ll recommend it with all my heart.

Jonas Christensen


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