Guided By Fire
posted on 12/2007 By:
Melodic death metal is burgeoning with newcomers these days, and while Finland’s Ghost Brigade could most succinctly be termed melodic death, their sound is much more than that. They use today’s genre pool like a painter’s palette, creating their own shades rather than sticking to the primary colors inundating the metal market. While it’s sometimes hard to pick young bands out of the pack, Ghost Brigade’s genre-bending Guided By Fire stands out as one of the better debuts of the year.
The band mixes a healthy dose of the hard/heavy and the serene to provide a batch of tasty songs rooted in melodic death, gothic metal and metalcore. Don’t be put off by that last tag there. The band merely dips its collective pen in metalcore – and it does so in a way that most fans of extreme music will likely tolerate, if not enjoy.
Taking each personality of Guided By Fire’s sound individually, each song has atmospheric segments that bring Paradise Lost or melancholy Opeth to mind, with more traditionally heavy portions reflecting an unexpected American influence over a base of Scandinavian metal. In the latter, traces of Lamb of God are evident, with nimble transitions from top-end guitarwork to low, combined with hooks that are plentiful and catchier than Carlton Fisk. Vocalist Manne Ikonen’s dual vocal approach uses both gothic crooning and balls-to-the-wall metalcore roars in the vein of God Forbid’s Byron Davis. Their Scandinavian flair for the dramatic helps make the dichotomy seem less contrived than the 1,000 other bands taking a split approach at the moment, with Ikonen’s accent adding depth to the more atmospheric passages. Further adding to this dynamic, the band borrowed Aleksi Munter of Swallow the Sun to man the keyboards for Guided By Fire. His presence adds a soul-crushing melancholy to the slower parts and accents the aggressive side of the record with smooth melody.
Given the opportunity, the album definitely veers toward accessibility rather than the acquired taste of prog. Some people will likely take issue with this tendency, but they’ll be the same people who take themselves way too seriously to enjoy anything less dense than Meshuggah or some such band. There are no standout tracks on Guided By Fire because they’re all equally listenable (save for some brief gothic cheesiness on final track “Deliberately”). While Ghost Brigade isn’t going to blow the lid off the metal community with this release, it’s definitely a solid, hooky, impressive debut, and I look forward to hearing more from this Finnish five-piece.
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