GhastFurther enforcing the notion that the UK currently has one of the strongest black metal scenes in the world are Swansea-based trio Ghast. This band has failed to get the media attention they deserve with debut ‘May the Curse Bind’ and although their follow up EP, ‘Terrible Cemetery’, received some praise they still aren’t as huge as they could be, despite featuring on Fenriz’s Band of the Week blog back in 2011. Second full length ‘Dread Doom Ruin’ will hopefully grant them some much deserved spotlight.

So what makes Ghast so special? When set out on paper, the concept of this three-piece will have many rolling their eyes and thinking “great, another 90’s Norway jerk circle band”; however, when put into practice, this band are so much more than that. Sure, they possess the rasping vocals and the strangulated guitar tones that were big in ’92, but this album was mastered by Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, Winterfylleth, Panopticon, Woe, Origin, etc.), so the production quality really packs a punch instead of sounding like a soup can full of rusty nails.

Ghast are also in no hurry to go anywhere, so tremolo picking is thrown out of the window in favour of writhing murk, with both guitars and bass sounding thick and doomy. There’s a depth within the music that’s rarely heard within this style and it conjures a feeling of gut-wrenching unease. The entire album feels as though it could launch into a fast paced traditional BM assault at any moment, and listeners will spend the entire hour anticipating this. The band never grant this release of tension though and when this record ends it genuinely feels like you’re being let up for air. Each track will grab you and hold you under its surface of slow moving grime.

For people who have been avidly following the progression of black metal over the years, and especially those with an interest in UK black metal, this album is essential listening. The swampy atmosphere, while treacherous and evil, is strangely inviting so get stuck in.

(8/10 Angela Davey)