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Godhunter / Secrets of the Sky: GH/OST:S

This split release features four tracks, divided equally between two up-and-coming bands that both made a huge impression on me. When I reviewed Godhunter's City of Dust, I was impressed with the band's deft mixture of sludge and politics. Since I'm always on the lookout for heavy music with ties to H. P. Lovecraft I was especially interested in "Rats in the Walls," a song named for one of that author's stories. In Godhunter's hands, the tale becomes a political metaphor concerning all the crimes committed against the nation by corrupt politicians.

As for Secrets of the Sky, I've never been quiet about my love for their debut album To Sail Black Waters. To me, that album was one of the best 2013. I loved the way it weaved dark and occult themes with different kinds of soundscapes. At times, Secrets of the Sky reminds me of a death metal Pink Floyd. Just listen to the way the guitars string together echoes, melodies, and arpeggios. Put another way, these guys are masters of atmosphere. They, too, draw on Lovecraft to add that extra touch of mystery and otherworldliness to the music. I actually saw these guys perform in Salt Lake City several months ago and was impressed with the power and the sound of their set. I meant to review that show, by the way, but I was upset that the audience that night was so small and didn't want to write up a screed against metal fans in the area. Oh, well.

As for the EP, it's rock solid, possibly one of the best releases of its kind. Godhunter's "Pursuit / Predator" explores themes of murder and justice. The track opens with a passage from the film Zodiac, in which a killer describes some of his reasons for hunting humans. It's chilling. Godhunter is a strong band, one that performs consistently intelligent and powerful songs. We need more and more music from these guys. Secrets of the Sky offers an equally powerful track entitled "The Star." It's simply awesome. To me, it builds perfectly on the strengths of To Sail Black Waters by helping to establish a larger overall sound for this band. Whereas Godhunter weaves together sludge, politics, and hardcore, Secrets of the Sky blends death metal with something similar to atmospheric rock. I like the fact that this band seems to be moving closer and closer to a signature sound. Let's hope it never grows old or formulaic.

So far, I've made no mention of the two "GH/OST:S" tracks. Part of the reason is that both "Pursuit / Predator" and "The Star" have the quality of singles, songs that people need to hear if they want to know what's going on with both bands right now. Interested listeners could do a lot worse than check out those two tracks and call it a day. Still the "ghosts" tracks seem important to me. I haven't figured out, at least not yet, if there's any significance to the way the word "ghosts" is divided in the titles. My best guess is that it conveys a sense that ghosts have different degrees of getting into our lives. Put another way, ghosts have metaphorical value, referring, at times, to spirits and, at other times, to social, political, and personal issues. We all know that a term like "ghosts" can have several layers of reference. These tracks remind us of that point. Fans of heavy atmospheric music will love the ghost tracks. Somebody, please, tell me who the female vocalist is on the first one. She has a great voice.

This split ends with a pretty vile recording that describes satanic desecrations at a Catholic church. I think it might be taken from The Exorcist but I'm not sure. Whatever the source, listening to it is pretty challenging. If I'm right to suggest that the ghost tracks have metaphorical value, however, then it's possible that this reminder of human destructiveness and degradation has to do with the darker sides of human nature, another "ghost" that haunts us all. If it's only there to shock listeners out of some kind of bourgeois complacency, then I think it was a big mistake.

But enough of all that. This is a great split. Check it out.

Track Listing:
1. Pursuit / Predator
3. The Star

Added: September 11th 2014
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1717
Language: english

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