Stray Ghost – Losthilde (Highpoint Lowlife)

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So much of the current crop of darkly ambient drone of today is so devoid of personality that its often hard to see through the hazy wash of doom and gloom to pick out personalities and performers who are actually talented. This is the intention, of course, with the music taking root in metal and Black Metal in particular, some of the most misanthropic and personality destroying music recorded to date. So its always nice to come across something equally as dark and compelling in which contains the soul and substance of an artist.

Stray Ghost’s second release follows the same trajectory as his earlier works but with more focus on composition than just seeking to create noise. This album is centred around the loss of Ant Saggers’ (he who is Stray Ghost) partner and his already inherent ideas of creating soundscapes that seek to expand on beauty and sadness are given full credence here. The album is split into two halves: “There Is An Ocean Between Us, You And I” parts 1&2 and “Suadade” pts 1&2. “There Is An Ocean…“ opens with the slow sawing of a single string, sounding ever more lost and desolate the further it draws on, building almost to nothing. The ambience is peaceful, stationary; dark but never foreboding; cool, but not quite frostbitten. Shrill chords of feedback rise up out of the delicate undercurrent, almost threatening to push to bursting but fall back, returning later as a completely different shape, never repeating the same pattern twice. The distant elements of metal creep through Part 2, again, appearing dark and hard edged but at the same time massively free and open. The second half moves just as slowly, just as cinematically sad as the first half.

It is, as I said, still rather odd to encounter a music of such a dark, contemplative quality that carries with it an overall story and, in it, an overwhelming sense of humanity. And whilst this is still a very desolate and “alone” record, Losthilde helps the case for a quieter, yet no less troubled, exploration of heavy metal through its more ambient textures.

Joel Hedrick

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