Here I am checking out the new album Ghost, by Tesa, a Latvian band whom I had not heard of until now. Whilst most folks would label these guys Post-Metal, I am not a big fan of sub genres, I understand the need for them and see them as a necessary evil sometimes. In my household I like to cut through the bullshit, and so I tend refer to bands like this as “A band that Sounds Like Neurosis”, But when you consider that Neurosis are one of my favourite bands of all time, then to be compared to them by me is always massive compliment.
From the off I must say that the Neurosis comparison I have made here is no accident, aside from the fact these guys have the honour of touring with them on their 30th anniversary, it’s safe to say from the music they are making that the influence of Neurosis on them has been very significant. That’s not to say they are a rip off by any stretch of the imagination, there’s some very different elements that give them their own identity here.
Tesa handle the “Post-Metal” formula excellently, with a huge bleak atmosphere, and tense build ups to the heaviest parts, which increases the impact tenfold when a huge riff crashes over you live a wave of misery. However The other thing you might expect is for parts of the album to offset this by having more sombre, melodic and introspective tracks, but they have for the most part skipped over this element and opted to simply dish out more punishment instead. Don’t get me wrong there are some peaceful moments, but every track does have a big heavy riff waiting in the wings to batter you again.
The one thing that really made this stand out for me was the mix. The overall tone is very raw and oppressive. The riffs are full of pummelling fuzz, and the cymbals have a lot of hiss that bleeds through the fuzz and makes for a quite unpleasant sound but in a very good way. And the main thing about the mix I have to mention is the vocals. The vocals are mixed so low that for the most part you can barely hear them, I genuinely thought it was an instrumental album at first, but then there are the odd moments where the vocalss poke through and catch your ear, but even then they are very quiet and you really have to listen out to catch them. At first this put off me off in a big way, but after a few more listens I have grown to appreciate the uniqueness of it, and the odd scream does cut through it gives it a really haunting and ghostly vibe, which really suites the overall sound (and of course the album’s title) perfectly.
This album is not an easy listen by any means, and It’s not supposed to be, but it is a very rewarding listen for those with the patience to appreciate it, and I strongly recommend that you give it a go. It’s a grower, and so whilst I took a bit longer getting this review out there than I should have, I am glad I did, as the more time I have spent with this album the more I have come to appreciate its charm.
Overall this is a very strong outing by a very promising band who I will be keeping an eye on from now on, and am very keen to see where they go from here.
(8/10 Mark Gleed)