August 19th, 2021, marks the 10th anniversary of GHOST BRIGADE’s third album, “Until Fear No Longer Defines Us,” published by Season of Mist. The band was founded in 2005 in Jyväskylä and has been active for a decade: one demo on CD, four full length albums, one single, a compilation, and one box-set have been released between 2006 and 2020, granting the act a pretty solid reputation in the scene. The unique blend of doom, death, post metal, and post rock elements surely makes GHOST BRIGADE one of the most interesting bands in terms of turning melancholy into music in a very peculiar Finnish style.
I can’t help taking into account that the band was supposed to come back for two live concerts in their hometown in April 2020. These were later postponed to August on the same year and eventually cancelled due to the pandemic… after a 5-year hiatus that started in 2015, when the band members were dealing with some motivation issues. Those gigs never happened and never will. The ticket I bought is still in my drawer, as a sad reminder of what could have been. I still feel nostalgic for something that had no chance to witness. Now, the albums are all that’s left…
“Until Fear No Longer Defines Us” consists of ten songs and its total playing time is about one hour. It is worth mentioning that Aleksi Munter, formerly known as the keyboard player of SWALLOW THE SUN, took part in the recording of the album as a guest.
Due to its remarkable inner variety, I would consider this release to be the highlight of the band’s career. Starting from the dreamy acoustic opener, “In the Woods,” whose intro really sounds like some sort of a gloomy lullaby, to the closing “Soulcarvers,” the band builds and explores several soundscapes. Heavier moments such as the second track, “Clawmaster,” (which is, in my opinion, one of the most complex and complete songs GHOST BRIGADE have ever written due to its contrasts in mood, patterns, singing styles, and general vibe), put the album one step ahead, even 10 years after its release date.
The post-rock feeling in the drum work in “Chamber” nicely pairs with more traditionally doomish guitars in the chorus, while Manne Ikonen’s vocals – here slightly reminiscent of some American acts from the ’90s – always work as the cherry on top. The following tune, “Traces of Liberty,” is heavier both in the vocals style and in the riffing: the main riff is straightforward and energetic and, even though it’s not particularly original, it does catch the listener’s attention.
“Divine Act of Lunacy,” thanks to its obsessive rhythm and harmonized vocals, has always made me think of ALICE IN CHAINS as a big influence in the band’s approach, in terms of melody and melancholic vibes, in a more personal rendition compared to the thousand copycat bands that started popping out in the early 2000’s.
There is a strong post-rock vibe in the sixth track, “Grain,” paired with a vaguely PINK FLOYD-ish feeling that makes it one-of-a-kind on many levels. The ability of GHOST BRIGADE to blend many vastly contrasting elements and influences under a common flag – melancholy, gloom, the pain of living – is the trademark that makes the band special and different from other big names in the same scene. “Breakwater” is the longest song on the album, a bittersweet hymn to a not-completely-lost hope, whose many layers do not sound dull nor tedious at all. The following two tracks on the album are, in my opinion, slightly weaker. Not meant to be considered as fillers, both of them do not have the same impact as the previous ones.
The closing song, “Soulcarvers,” is a classic ballad: fairly slow as Ikonen’s solemn chant guides the listener through the end of the journey: “When you have lost all direction, let the silence speak the loudest words. When you have lost all direction, let the undone come to life.” All-in-all, GHOST BRIGADE did leave a great void behind. This album is an undisputed gem that will never fill the hole, but at least it will not fade in the mists of time.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- In the Woods
- Traces of Liberty
- Divine Act of Lunacy
- Cult of Decay
Manne Ikonen – vocals
Wille Naukkarinen – guitars
Tommi Kiviniemi – guitars
Janne Julinen – bass
Veli-Matti Suihkonen – drums
Aleksi Munter – keyboards
Season of Mist