Review – Ghost Horizon: Astral Possession

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  • Bio: "The band was formed by ex-Severed Receptors and Psychobliss guitarist Dan Stollings this past year. After a few ups and downs with recruiting other membes, Stollings chose to reach out to a former bandmate: Uræus, in his view the best possible vocalist for the band. With a stroke of luck, Uræus agreed to contribute to the cause." - Press release
  • Label: Depressive Illusions Records, Self-release
  • Release Date: February 26th, 2016
  • Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Ghost Horizon is a two-man USBM project from Phoenix, Arizona, and formed by guitarist/bassist Daniel Stollings and vocalist/drummer Uraeus, both being no strangers to each other due to having been members of Entrancempeium and Empyreus. Earlier this year, the duo issued the project’s first recording, a three song EP titled Astral Possession, which was picked up for distribution through the Ukrainian underground label Depressive Illusions Records. But is it another solid example of what North America do to for the style, or is it more of a lifeless shell of what it could have been?

Well, while the crisp modern production helps push some of the atmospheric touches forward, that aspect of the style is very minimal compared to many of the front-runners to the style nowadays who spoil their listeners with methodic and emotionally altering performances. There is an undeniable chill in the air throughout the effort, which is clear during “Pale Apparition”. It kicks off with a very somber and cold beginning, eventually picking up traces of nordic influence and rich guitar hooks that leave you craving the desperate high-pitched screaming often associated with the style. The harmonized singing behind the harsher shouting, however, makes for a catchy chorus that paints for of a modern Samael sans industrial foundation with traces of gothic Cradle of Filth beauty sprinkled in, such as around the three-minute mark. After this, however, comes an obvious change to a more progressive direction towards the end of the release.

“Spectral Threnody” has a sad start that slowly builds to more of an upbeat breakdown, picking up intensity as you gaze into the light before a far more substantial emotion grips the climax of the track and suddenly cuts to make way for “Astral Possession (The Cold Years Unearthed)”, the Vintersorg of the EP’s offerings. You could look at the former as more of an introductory track, which is does seem to act better as than its own entity all together given the quick cut and more venomous death metal influence that engulfs the last four minutes and ten seconds of this recording. Like “Pale Apparition”, there are notable hints of Cradle of Filth with some of the melodies utilized, but also an underlying melodic death metal presence at times like the bridge leading up to the guitar solo. Sadly, the conclusion of this one leaves a little more to be desired, as the track itself could have gone on much longer than it does with ease, but chooses to give up the ghost before its time.

Ghost Horizon

The three tracks that make up this EP are all well done, laid out neatly, and executed very well, but that doesn’t always mean there’s anything too memorable to found. The mixture of traditional black metal with traces of a subtle atmosphere laced with influence from the depressive branch of the style, as well as death metal and melodic death metal for good measure, are all worth their praise for what they are. Sadly, it all felt a bit too close to the template of each of the sounds included to really have any personality of its own, leaving you to walk away feeling partially unsated in your experience. In time, Ghost Horizon will more than likely add on to this template and weave something a little more fulfilling overall but, for now, Astral Possession can just be summed up as a good first attempt, and a noble one at that.

Ghost Horizon

Digital review copy of this release provided by Ghost Horizon via Dewar PR.