Blue Hour Ghosts – Due
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Running Time: 38:59
Review by Dark Juan
Salut! I trust you are all having the most splendid day imaginable? Yes? Excellent. You find I, Dark Juan, in a most agreeable humour considering I have work tomorrow and I am in fact sober even though Argos (a particular shop in the UK, fans from other climes) were having what could only be described as a twat of a day considering their IT systems were down and no fucker could buy anything. This was annoying because I need to buy a hairdryer. Not for me, you understand, as I am somewhat follically challenged (but this just makes me a more streamlined and sleeker killing machine), but because I am SICK TO DEATH of Mrs Dark Juan’s hair trying to kill me while I sleep by infiltrating my throat. Honestly, her hair leads a semi-independent life all of its own and it is frequently homicidal. One wonders whether it would rank among the more unusual deaths ever recorded by West Yorkshire Police when it finally succeeds in its quest to off me and it will probably have half consumed my corpse by the time the plod get here. It once spat out an entire tortilla chip at me once. I shit you not. Also, I have been subject to some mockery from the leek and dragon enthusiast part of Team Ever Metal and other Welsh friends (MANY, many Welsh friends), due to a load of blokes named variously Jones, Davies or Griffiths chasing a funny shaped ball around a field better than us Saesnegs whilst wearing worryingly tight shorts. But the English do that too.
Three hundred words and I haven’t told you a damned thing about the music. Well, if you insist… Today’s offering comes from the land of Ferraris, Birra Moretti, and Cristina Scabbia (sigh…). Yes, Blue Hour Ghosts are from Modena in Italy, and I am listening to their sophomore offering “Due”, which is “Two” for all you dastardly souls who have never bothered to learn another language. Pay attention, you at the back, there will be a test later.
The record kicks off with ‘Walking Backwards’ and I am immediately smacked in the face with shimmering, very 80’s sounding keyboards and a clean (as in doesn’t sound like the vocalist is straining to have a colossal chilli fuelled shit, or more worryingly sounding like he’s on a very gruff vinegar stroke) singer over a meaty riff. I have returned to the righteous path of metal after a sojourn into the realms of industrial and the frankly whacked out bonkers barmy. However, rather than return to the world of the extreme, I have chosen the more melodic and grandiose path that Blue Hour Ghosts tread. Employing a sound that is a melange of Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, more than a little Coheed And Cambria (in the arrangement of the songs) and a soupcon of Paradise Lost, BHG are never going to be a particularly violent band. What they do have are pretty good songwriting chops and a fine grasp of English compared to my woeful knowledge of Italian. I always find it mightily impressive when non-native English speakers create songs in English when I could just about ask for two beers in their language (and can’t even do that in Afrikaans).
Further on into the record there is ‘Lower The Wires’ which marries an epic vocal from Ricky DC and a massive fucking chorus over keyboards inspired by Rammstein in parts, what with the way they swirl and prowl below the dual guitar attack of Diego Angeli and Francesco Poggi. This is actually a record that is somewhat greater than the sum of its parts – When I read the blurb and it said it was melodic metal, I was prepared to be unimpressed, because quite a lot of melodic metal is frankly a bag of shite and needs actual proper talent to make it work. Thankfully, BHG have the talent to make it work and work well. A lot of credit goes to keyboard batterer Simome Pedrazzi for this because his keyboards are never less than stunning, forming Rammstein-esque stabbings and eerie atmosphere before morphing into huge, skyrocketing, coruscating walls of sound that counterpoint the chunky riffing of the guitars superbly, but never overwhelm the band entirely. The vocal harmonies are also fucking brilliant, reminding me of Coheed And Cambria when they are sung in higher registers. ‘Damn Wrong’ is also a good, slowly rocking, melancholy tune that really reminds me of “One Second” era Paradise Lost, having the black misery and nihilism that the Yorkshire miserabilists made famous. I could really picture Nick Holmes singing this song and being as I am a BIT of a fan of Paradise Lost, this is not really a demerit.
Production wise this record is actually pretty damned good. Production and engineering has been ably handled by Giuseppe Bassi, of Fear Factory notability. His handling of the bass guitar of Matteo Malmusi is especially noteworthy as it is easily audible but doesn’t overpower the rest of the band and is a writhing, sinuous underpoint to the music rather than just something there to give the music a bit of a fat arse. However, the drums sound lifeless and artificial (although very competently played) and the china cymbal really can grate somewhat as it appears to have developed a superiority complex over the rest of the percussion and decided that it should be the ONLY cymbal that is heard. Some of the song arrangements can also be a little…choppy on key changes and middle eights but these are really minor gripes compared to the expansive songs and sound that the band enjoy on this record.
So, Italy proves once again to us that the metal scene there is vibrant and wide-ranging. There’s clearly more to the Italian scene than just Lacuna Coil and Corpsefucking Art and I’m looking forward to dipping my toes in further. Forza Italia!!!
Yes, it is fair to say that I am actually more than a little impressed by Blue Hour Ghosts. Solid, experimental, heavy and melodic as well, they cover most bases that excite this perennial enfant terrible and the sex wee quotient is fairly high. While we aren’t going to experience flooding, as Calderdale Council have invested heavily in sex wee flood defences since the last time (that was The Machinist’s fault) the quantity is sufficient to call town planners’ decisions into question about whether they can build houses on the flood plain at the bottom of the hill. This is music that you would play on an epic roadtrip around the warmer climes of Europe with the top down at dusk. I like it.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue Dark Juan – fuck it. Close enough. I’m sure the gentlemen will correct my Italian if they read what I have written about them) has been pleasantly shocked and awards Blue Hour Ghosts 8/10 for a damned fine melodic metal record with melancholy overtones. Surprising and excellent.
01. Walking Backwards
02. On Black Clouds
03. Dead In August
04. Damn Wrong
07. Lower The Wires
Ricky DC – Vocals
Diego Angeli – Guitars
Francesco Poggi – Guitars
Simome Pedrazzi – Keyboards
Matteo Malmusi – Bass
Andrew Gunner – Drums
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