Tuesday, March 10, 2009

REVIEW: Ghost of the Russian Empire's "The Mammoth"

No-one ever said I was timely in my reviews. Austin Texas’s Ghost of the Russian Empire released their “The Mammoth” album last year, and it fell through the cracks for me. So this review is an apology, to Ghost, for my (quite literal) ignorance.

“The Mammoth” is an album shrouded in mystery. Ghost use so much reverb on most of their tracks that everything has a cloudy, lost feel to it. Vocals, in particular, drift past you incomprehensibly, swathed in ringing echoes of themselves. This is compounded with the dearth of information on the band (their ‘website’ is just a picture of the album cover – a cleverly engineered mystique?), and you start to wonder if Ghost are obscure, or obscured.

My comments may make it sound like “The Mammoth” is one big studio mishap, but here I feel sure Ghost are entirely in control of their direction. They claim a deep affiliation with Radiohead, but I don’t see it. Nonetheless, their album has some of the deep warmth of BRMC’s “Take them on, On Your Own,” some of the swagger, in songs like the excellent “Bleeding Machines,” of Kasabian’s eponymous first album (particularly tracks like “Reason is Treason”) – rolling bass is the only element you can hang onto while the song wheels around you.

So I highly recommend Ghost of the Russian Empire. They play dark music you can sink into, and sink your teeth into.

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