I’ve often said that metal and stage performance go together like nuts and bolts. Hell, the next natural progression for Dimmu Borgir is to go ahead and put a musical on Broadway. The same might be said of A Forest of Stars. The point is, there’s plenty of room for theatrics in extreme music; especially when it comes to black metal. Our cast of characters today: Outre. If you’re feeling a bit out of place at the latest showing of The King and I, Ghost Chants is here to fill the gap. You can leave the black tie at home.
From the initial rise of the curtain with “Departure,” we are treated to a variety of characters. In almost Shakespearean tradition, all of them happen to be played by the same actor. Sick of cookie-cutter vocals that drone on in the same register for an entire album? Stawrogin is here to change all of that. Shrieks, wails, growls, and croaks are all fair game here; each one more disconcerting than the last. Occasional effects and overlays push certain moments into full-blown madness.
Backing this performance is a simple pit made up of your standard guitar, bass, and drum quartet. The chord progressions, tremolos, and blastbeats are all pretty typical to the genre. However, something in the guitar tone is absolutely chilling. Their is a dissonant ringing to the distortion on the treble notes. “The Fall” is a perfect example. When the pace picks up, it sounds like the wail of a banshee. Alternatively, the bass guitar provides a crunchy rumble to back the very deliberate picking of minor scales. It is pretty rare to find bass so carefully balanced into the mix for this genre, but Outre have absolutely nailed it.
Another notable track is “Lament.” The unusual striking of the chords is sometimes more Dillinger Escape Plan than Darkthrone. The discordant tones and chaotic drumming combine to form the soundtrack of spiraling insanity. It’s a little Gigan, a little Ulcerate...but all black metal. I am always impressed when a group can implement sounds that catch me off guard, and even more so when they manage to not abandon the overall aesthetic. In this Ghost Chants is undeniably successful.
And so, as the curtain closes, you are left with a question. What was the experience worth to you? And is it a display worth returning to see? For Outre, the charge for readmission is but 7 Euro at the door. Bring your friends.