Galaktik Cancer Squad - _Ghost Lights_
(Hypnotic Dirge Records, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Black metal has gone through many changes in its relatively short existence, and these days it seeks incessantly new turf for its artistic aspirations, and like all forms of metal, it is restless, curious, bold and relentlessly expeditionary; almost no aural stone was left unturned in black metal's (and its latest addition as post-black metal) constant quest for new sounds, new inspirational substances and odd (or pedestrian) marriages of styles and aesthetics.

The German one-man project Galaktik Cancer Squad is no different than most of today's black metal musicians who do just that: constantly searching and experimenting; and frankly, black metal is probably the only metal movement that has enough room within its stylistic boundaries (or lack thereof) for almost any foreign sound, paradigm, influence or combination, and when you think about it, this notion is being realized on daily basis. I mean, who wants to be yet another Darkthrone clone? Not many, I hope. The irony is that a musical style like black metal, that was supposed to be the most purist of them all, has become the most open-minded of all sub-genres of metal, always prone to changes and experimentation. Ha!

Case in point: _Ghost Light_, a rather intriguing metal album of many facets, bearing the black metal backdrop; its stylistic distinctive sound of buzzing guitars and blasting rhythms, its tremolo picking technique that's ever present and a raspy, low-pitched growler who matches the metallic maelstrom in a good way -- all sound pretty basic black metal to me.

However, if black metal is the mother-ship here, then the probes and satellites it sends to outer space are communicating with a plethora of other rock 'n' roll sounds, from good old heavy metal (Iron Maiden riffage and guitar tone), through post-rock and folk, to death metal and shoegaze.

The result is outstanding and exhilarating; turns and plot twists abound, and _Ghost Light_ is a tour de force of inventiveness and creativity, carrying out astral compositional wonders free of any genre esthetic or rigid rule, and like a sonic sponge, the album readily absorbs any form of sound or inspirational material into its metallic matrix, and in turn spews forth an array of celestial sounds that are extremely engaging and harmonious.

From blast beats to bag pipes; from death to black metal's finest moments; from intricate post-rock to melancholic, hazy shoegaze rock, the album is a barrage of abrasive yet calculated violence and vitriolic wonder that is as dichotomous in its spectrum of sonic visions as the vast deep space itself: cold, cruel and nonchalant to human suffering and yet bright and warm and radiating with an array of impossibly beautiful colors that once glanced upon, they own the power to make even the blackest of human hearts sing in joy.

If the truth be told, I have never heard an album quite like _Ghost Light_; its spacey attributes and multitude of elements, both miniscule and plain for all to see, are singular and stupefying, to say the least. However, if you could imagine a marriage between Zgard's folk-ish beauty (mainly _Reclusion_ and _Astral Glow_), Liturgy's _Renihilation_ and Amber Tears' _Revelation of Renounced_, you'd have a faint idea of the capabilities and powers of transcendence invested in _Ghost Light_, radiating like the brightest galaxy within the darkest space.


(article published 2/3/2014)

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