Ghost Brigade‘s IV: One with the Storm shows a lot of growth for Finland’s somber survivors. I loved aspects of their debut years back but found it far too Nuerosis indebted and not enough differentiation between songs. By album number four there is still post-metal influence for sure, but the band have come into their own with epic flourishes and more impact to the compositions. “Wretched Blues” is a terrific opening number “where shadows call your name”, a just above mid-tempo ground mover that features sweeping guitar lines atop driving percussion.”Departures” explores further the band’s quiet side with excellent melodic vocals and a lonely sorrow to the spare intro that recalls recent Katatonia before a great melodic doom riff takes you away. The band have really hit their stride with this release and it shows in the songwriting.
Like November’s Doom who struck gold with this year’s doom standout Bled White, Ghost Brigade have made good records in the past but just now everything really seems to be coming together like never before. “Disembodied voices” is 5:36 of ethereal awakening like seeing light from beneath the surface, Manne Ikonen sounding more confident with the cleans here than on previous albums (at times even sounding a bit like the ballad side of Chad Gray circa Mudvayne’s “World So Cold”, but not in a nu-metal context). Wille Naukkarinen and Tommi Kiviniemi’s guitar work cement each song with a full architecture of big chords and hypnotic interwoven lines, spellbinding the ear with reasons to keep listening. It is cool to see the band have grown and pushed to be relevant despite having first arrived kind of during the “boom” of the whole Neur-Isis craze a few years back. They have become one with their storm, indeed.
While fans of the post-metal genre in general will find plenty of crushing moments here to furrow their brooding brows with grim pleasure and make their beards itch (see the mighty “Stones and Pillars”) there are also dark proggy, introspective passages that entertain a certain sense of poetry. The production is reasonably clean but the band have amazing tones on this and especially of note are the ghostly and welcome keyboard layers from Joni Vanhanen. Album highlight “Long Way to the Graves” is where they nail it 100%, opening with a mood setting slow drum pattern before watery guitar and lush texture set up the best vocal performance in the band’s history, a study of life cycles that is a calm recognition of the chapters in life, our potentials and the storms we all must traverse to highlight what really matters in life.