Review: Ghost Season – Like Stars in a Neon Sky
Written by Elliot John Doe
Ghost Season is a 4-piece alternative metal act from Athens, Greece. Having formed in 2013 with bassist Dorian Gates and guitarist Nick Christolis, releasing their debut EP, Ghosts Like Her, in September 2014 to positive reviews, especially from music journalists in America. Completing the lineup we have Hercules Zotos on Vocals and Helen Nota on Drums, these four individuals came together to record their debut full length album, Like Stars in a Neon Sky, with a little help from J.Loren Wince of HURT as co-producer, let’s see what they’ve collectively put together.
‘The Reckoning’ is an ethereal industrial introduction as to what’s to come within this collection of music, heartbeat drum programming and acoustic guitar harmonics make for a creepy nursery rhyme like setting, adding in bass lines, a background of soundscapes and some sampled spoken word ties everything together.
‘Sons of Yesterday’ delivers a punch from the get go with a tight rhythm section and blistering guitar riffs. Swaying verses followed up with big hook laden choruses full of crowd pleasing chants and ginormous lead vocals. Topping everything off with a stellar guitar solo makes for a great first full track on the album.
‘Fade Away’ has you hooked and nodding your head from the moment all the instruments hit in, this track holds a fusion of prog, goth and nu-metal mixed into a modern alternative metal. Thick, juicy bass, crushing double kick, chugging riffs and soaring lead guitars are complimented by front-man Hercules Zotos’ vocals.
‘Break My Chains’ incorporates more of that gothy feel into the band’s modernized alternative metal sound. It’s very much a sing along chorus, including some great vocal harmonies, classic metal guitar solos and relentless drumming. I can’t escape the prominence and sound of the bass on these recordings; it’s refreshing to hear it in a very organic way and for such an important part of a band to not get lost in everything else that is going on. It really helps to carry the songs.
‘War of Voices’ picks up the pace and gets some classic metal riffery going on, pulling back in the first half of the verses then building up the momentum for another solid chorus. This track holds some awesome key changes that have been executed excellently. A spoken word middle section adds to the intensity of the final chorus, lifting the song up higher than you thought it could go.
‘The Highway Part 1’ is somewhat of an interim track that has beautiful mellowness to it, involving both acoustic and electric guitars for a great dynamic effect and once again showcasing that ever prominent bass. Building up towards the end becoming the perfect lead into…
‘The Highway Part 2’ a hair swinging heavy masterpiece with big riffs, accentuating drums, gargantuan choruses and some of the best melodic rock vocals I’ve heard in a long time. Fantastic acoustic guitar drop outs that cause a giant crash of the choruses hitting in and some seriously rockin’ solo guitar work here.
‘Just a Lie’ brings the pace down a little after the preliminary high of the previous track, once again blending in acoustic guitars and clicky bass smothered in breathy vocals. Picking up slightly for a catchy melody in the chorus, plus a few well placed little double kicks for effect makes all the difference.
‘The Vampire’ introduces itself in a subtle classical guitar before sinking it’s teeth in with a meaty riff, very prog-metal with big guitars and some unsuspecting notes that throw you, just when you think things have become somewhat formulaic Ghost Season have flipped an extremely catchy track right on its head and made it that extra little bit more interesting. Another super solid sing along chorus, and of course using such a well versed mysticism into metal music for literal or metaphorical meanings is always a winner for me.
‘The Mirror’ hits hard with some hook filled choppy riffs and doesn’t compromise for heaviness at all with time changes and a chorus only a stone’s throw away from, dare I say it, being a pop rock classic. Perfectly matched lead guitar, throwing in some pitch harmonics for good measure and you’ve grabbed my attention.
‘Of Hearts And Shadows’ continues this opus as it means to go on with acoustic guitars, powerful yet delicate vocals, which ultimately leads to an emotionally fueled crescendo of modernized alternative metal of epic proportions, complimentary drums and big riffs topped with solo guitar and more larger than life vocals that would be hard to reckon with.
Album closer ‘Break Me, Shake Me’ is a full on upbeat number that is somewhat of a surprise, I didn’t expect something as hard as this as the goodbye to a well mixed and molded craft of melodic, yet crushing style of alternative metal, this song is much more of rock number with a slightly dark yet pop-esque twist, I’m thinking a gothier, European Charvel, if you will. A great melody and very catchy, the rhythm section is spot on, probably the best guitar riffs on the album in my opinion, and the vocals just work perfectly.
A really well rounded piece of Alternative Metal with some clever modernization, throwing dashes of elements like goth and classic metal with a pop sensibility, a vision has been clung to here, it has been followed through then carried out and executed greatly. A solid and exciting debut, I can’t wait to see where the road takes them. 7/10