Ghost Brigade formed back in 2005, and is a rather unique speciman for the Metal community. While the mixture of Melodic Death Metal and Doom Metal may not be the most original concept, the group’s blend of those two styles, as well as a more Depressive Rock sound has definitely earned them a little more attention then others out there. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us marks the Finnish group’s third full-length recording, which again is being released through Season of Mist Records, their home since their debut offering Guided by Fire, and given the loyal fanbase Ghost Brigade has built up, and the varied yet decent reviews of previous releases, one can only wonder what the band has in store for us this time around.
In an effort to further push this release, a single was issued of the track “Clawmaster” prior to the release of this album. It became a nice choice, as it showed the darker and heavier tendencies of the band, but it definitely does not speak for the rest of the release. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us has a nice variety of material, mostly following the slower Doom Metal tendencies of acts like Novembers Doom, captured nicely with a more modern and stylish audio quality to the release. The guitars are deep enough that they don’t feel blunt, but rather still a bit sharp with a slightly higher pitch. But the mixture works well witht he bass to create a rather crushing sound when the band’s slower or generally heavier tendencies kick in, or even the more atmospheric melodic elements like on “Clawmaster” for some more epic-sounding passages. The drums sound great with a nice click to the bass kicks, rich snares and loud cymbols that work well with the dismall atmosphere, adding to the more melancholic depressive sound of the recording. Of course the vocal range of soothing clean singing with some really deep and thick gutturals really shines through, and it also helps that they are not abused in any way, such as tacking one of the styles on in a segment where they are not needed. Instead, the vocals and music go well together, and though some parts of songs can sound more like the band did a bit of a Progressive jump, much of the time the music flows smoothly from start to finish with well orchestrated transitions that allow the song to grow and change naturally.
But, if you were to judge the album solely on the darker, melodic “Clawmaster”, you’d be shocked at what you find on this release. While Ghost Brigade does often show signs of material similar to more modern Amorphis, but mixed with some depressive material similar to Katatonia, that’s not all the album is. “In the Woods” actually starts the release up with a bit of a Blues sound to the acoustic Rock piece. It sets a very distinct sad atmosphere to the album, and being a full-fledged acoustic track to start things off feels rather daring to establish the album, but it doesn’t quite work in the band’s favor and after a while the magic of this track will fade a bit, especially when it ends and the “Clawmaster” kicks in with it’s louder and heavier material. But again, not even this track really establishes what to expect on the album since it’s far more aggressive and heavier then much of the remainder of the release. For example, “Traces of Liberty” does have some additional atmosphere to it that actually comes off a bit twisted in a carnival sort of way while the song chugs along more at a Stoner Rock pace outside that richer atmospherically driven chorus. You do also get a throwback to “In the Woods” with “Grain”, which is a stronger more traditional Rock song that isn’t quite an acoustic piece, but just feels like it’s in the same kind of musical vein or general inspiration outside the depressive Melodic Death Metal chorus.
One of the better elements about this release is the band’s ability to keep the longer tracks intertaining. There are not a lot of shorter songs on here, and only a few come close to hitting the four minute mark, such as “Traces of Liberty” and “In the Woods”. For the most part, they range between five minutes or more, and luckily they are often done very well that the longer the track, the more enjoyable it becomes. “Breakwater” is the longest cut off the album, and it’s perhaps the most engaging. Ghost Brigade really creates an atmosphere rich track that goes between soothing passages and moving choruses to heavy, driving Melodic Death Metal with commanding gutturals. Towards the end, the band even goes into a bit of a breakdown, which is not really seen prior to this track, and it works out great. Instead of feeling like the band is just pushing a longer track length and drawing the conclusion out by doing this, they seemlessly blend it in and make it feel natural to the closing of the track, eating up a little more time but making a very suiting end that leaves the listener content with the decision. “Soulcarvers” closes the album out, and even further pushes the excellence of the longer tracks with it’s over eight minute run time and rather emotional atmosphere that, again, seems to throw back to the start of the album for really only the second time. The song’s slower nature and more acoustic sound works well, but unlike “In the Woods”, the longer length of the track allows Ghost Brigade to build to the song and add more to give the album some suiting closure.
Until Fear No Longer Defines Us is far from a bad album, and it has many things that work for it throughout. After a bit of a rocky start establishing the sound and atmosphere of the release, Ghost Brigade manage to compose a series of solid tracks that really feel emotional and very well composed. The only real gripe comes from how similar the music can sometimes sound to Amorphis. What more is there to say about Ghost Brigade‘s latest at this point that hasn’t been said already? If you know who this band is, you’re not going to be let down with this release. The band did a good job at molding together a solid album that fans who look for something a little more stirring and even artistic in their Metal will surely enjoy.