Review Summary: Ghost Brigade have truly come into their own on their third full-length effortGuided By Fire
showed potential, Isolation Songs
thrived on that potential, and Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
capitalizes on said potential. Finland’s Ghost Brigade, one of the newer names in the dark metal genre, have already managed to create some buzz, and their recent effort proves them to be worthy of hype. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
sees the band further cementing their own sound which they started to fully develop with 2009’s Isolation Songs
. The band still has a few minor kinks to flesh out, but on this new effort, those firmly take the back seat to what is a captivating overall sound.
Ghost Brigade's music is so familiar, yet no one does it quite like them. There is an equal amount of Neurosis, Swallow The Sun and Katatonia in there, yet they sound strictly Ghost Brigade on Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
. This is near peculiar, when delving deeper into the music, because Ghost Brigade’s song structures aren’t anything out of this world, nor do they experiment a great deal. Their brand of dark metal just plain clicks, encompassing well-working features such as sludgy, Cult of Luna-esque thick riffing sections, Swallow The Sun-like melodeath/doom passages, and the use of harsh/clean vocal dynamic (with the emphasis being on the latter of the two). When the end product is this smooth as a whole, it is hard to criticize the band for not experimenting with their sound more. As the saying goes, beauty lies in simplicity, and that is exactly the case here too: by build-up, Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
is simply a coherent record, but what works miracles in this case is the superb amalgamation of melodic guitar chords coupled with an atmosphere that is both ascending and gloomy. This results in an album that flows along seamlessly, and is a great companion for those upcoming, somber autumn nights.
About the aspects that could be improved upon, for one, the lyricism needs to be upped. Not only does Manne Ikonen completely ignore the phenomenon known as a rhyme, the lyrical lines themselves seem to be forced (at times). Take the closer "Soulcarvers" for example: the lyrical content itself isn’t bad, the mysterious, dark tone of them fits the music nicely, but the words sung are so awkwardly pronounced and stretched (aftermath of haphazard writing) that it takes a lot away from their effectiveness, especially in the chorus, which is supposed to be the culmination point. This is a recurring theme throughout the album, too, and since the lyrics are so comprehensible, it becomes a bit of an annoyance in the long run. Another thing that the band needs to do is bring back the harsh vocals in the quantity they were in before Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
. On Isolation Songs
, there was a perfect balance between the two styles, with the cleanly sung passages complementing the vocalist’s harsh style nicely. On this record though, the growly parts are toned down, the clean vox dominate, and even when the harsh style finally kicks in, there still isn’t enough of it to produce an effective counter-balance.
Enough with the negatives though, as the pros of this record far outweigh the cons. When it comes to overall development and execution, Ghost Brigade are progressing along nicely and getting better with each record they put out. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
is an exercise in consistently great melodic dark metal, and not only has the band placed its foot firmly on the map, Ghost Brigade have also made themselves recognizable. After this album, they won’t be addressed as "that pretty decent up-and-coming dark metal band" anymore, no, they will be known as Ghost Brigade, the great Finnish metal band. They definitely have room for improvement still, but it doesn't take anything away from Until Fear No Longer Defines Us