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Ghostly - Tombed Demo

At times, I meet a brave, lone soul willing to put forth the very sum of his or her musical output, and let me tear it apart as I see fit. It must take a lot of courage, as for single person acts like Brooklyn's Ghostly (ne' Davida Loca), if the music sucks, there's no one else to blame. On the other side, there must be no feeling better than being praised for one's sole creations, so I can understand the drive a person like Ghostly must have to make music by himself for himself. That alone deserves praise in a world full of sloppy, radio-tailored pop acts and American Idol TV superstars.

It is that very D.I.Y. mindset that draws me to acts like this, especially as Mr. Loca never once lies about the meaning of his musical project, saying it is for his own benefit and no one else's. I find this humble attitude of simple, ever-evolving personal self-exploration to be much more admirable than anything else, as it really is not about anything besides the music. All-in-all, props for that.

The demo in question that I'm so obviously getting to is 2005's two song sampler Tombed. Originally conceived as a three-piece demo, with songs appearing under different titles or formats, Ghostly later molded down the two best tracks in his tiny output (he started just last year for Pete's sake) and began mailing them to friends, family, and interested music fans. Being one myself, and having met Davida through some metal album trading, I decided to check the demo out and review it for critical sake.

At first, the opening track of "Funeral Shadow" doesn't sound like much. Describing the sound of his act as "industrial/electro doom/death," "Funeral Shadow" ends up sounding fairly different to these ears than what was intended. The song opens with raspy, oddly mixed guitar arrangements that at first glance sound pretty shallow and frail. With successive listens, I found out that (not unlike the 1990's black metal movement in the Northern countries) this fuzzy, gravesoil coated mastering gives the guitars a raw, messy edge and allows the minimalist atmospherics the doom/death "Funeral Shadow" wallows in to become much blacker and angrier. Best of all are Loca's guttural growls, which were mixed higher than the other instruments and sound much deeper, that much more abysmal, as a result. The drums are typical drum-machine beats, militaristic and hollow, merely keeping a robotic pace. Together, all these elements lead to a song that would be pretty wicked if it was recorded with better equipment, and in its present incarnation, is decent all on its own.

"The Protagonist Fails" again ends up sounding a bit on the black metal side of things, with an edge to it not unworthy of the oldest, most primitive Burzum recordings perhaps. I really enjoyed hearing Ghostly spew forth his vomit vocals on this, all of them are pretty sick howls, growls, and screeches. The best part is how eerie they are in their clearly worded incantations, and again the song produces a funeral mist of ethereal, ecto-plasmic atmosphere, all for another decently crafted track.

Like most unsigned projects, Ghostly is a flawed spirit on many levels. On the plus side, it is important to hear the heart and passion which were drilled into this music. Ghostly has a clear sense of atmospherics and how they work, all of which could someday (with more practice and better recording studios) end up being a choking miasma worthy of much bigger acts in the scene. In fact, I'd say even Davida Loca himself has no idea how well crafted his dark, phantasm melodies are, and with time I can't wait to see what they evolve into. I also really marked out for the lyrics, the likes of which deal with some more abnormal subjects in the metal world, all by focusing on the paranormal and the supernatural. If you thought the typical gloom-and-doom of doom/death was misanthropic enough, imagine an album in which the spirit world possessed that very sense of turmoil, and just how chilling it has the potential to be.

On the minus side, Tombedsuffers from the not uncommon problems faced by most young bands; a still unformed identity mixed with shoddy production. The terrible mixing present here is most likely not the fault of the artist, but the fault of budget constraints; regardless, I'm sure fans of this act wouldn't mind waiting a couple extra months for a demo that had been recorded using more paychecks and better studio wizardry. I also noticed that the songs seemed stretched between too many genres at once for so young an act; industrial, harsh electronica, doom/death, gothic, black, thrash, all of it could be included in this band, which coincidentally started out under various other monikers and guises much to my interest. I think a strictly blackened doom/death approach should be taken, with the songs being more dirge-worshipping and the atmosphere sinister, dark, and evil. This is just my opinion, and of course it is up to the artist to do what is natural and organic for him. Where it goes from here, I'm quite interested to see.

In closing, for all its faults, Tombedis one demo that doesn't deserve a premature burial. In honesty, there's no sound reason why anyone should avoid this, as it (musically) is a lot more solid than the wispy name might suggest and can be downloaded in its full form for free on myspace. Hell, don't take my word for it, just check it out. And will this one man project continue to impress? In this writer's humble opinion, it has much more than a ghost of a chance...keep up the strong work!

1. Funeral Shadow
2. The Protagonist Fails



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