Torrefy’s John Ferguson: What I’m Listening To

Tuesday, 14th March 2017

It seems we are in an era of “throwbacks”. Much like with our movies, television programs, advertisements and general worldly knowledge we have foregone the concepts of creativity and personal expression for the much more approachable ideas of nostalgia and elitism. I noticed this more as certain people seemed taken aback by the fact that my self-described “thrash” band had the audacity to play different tempo’s throughout our songs, and worse-still our vocals sounded nothing like Tom Araya, James Hetfield or Kurt Brecht. As more and more bands become popular and successful by sounding as close to hallowed bands such as Slayer, Black Sabbath and most commonly Iron Maiden one begins to wonder if we are seeing a decline in progressive approaches to the many sub-genres metal has to offer. Obviously there is nothing wrong with emulating your heroes to an extent, but there is a fine line between an homage and blatantly copying a band’s style and sound.

I have certainly gotten into a ton of these throwback bands, one that comes to mind in particular is Terrordome and their pure-crossover thrash album “Machete Justice”, but a lot of my current favorite bands and tracks are those which take a genre, like power metal or Thrash, and contribute something or add a new twist to these old stand-by takes on Metal. These are the bands I would like to focus on

Ghost Bath. I figured I would get these guys out of the way first as they will likely be the most controversial, but they really struck a chord with me. With a combination of thick tribal drums, droning fuzzy guitars and an array of featured classical instruments it is difficult at first to pinpoint what genre Ghost Bath falls into, until those vocals come in. Incoherent haunting shrieks echo over the airy, ambient riffs which increase in intensity while somehow retaining a lighthearted chord progression, which they still are capable of making sound sinister. Catchy leads over black metal? Blasphemy, right? I would disagree here though, and was pleasantly surprised and refreshed by this take on a genre which at times can seem rutted by its very specific minded fan base.

Gimmicks, or rather, lyrical themes aside, Hoth fuses so many takes on metal while adding their own flair and style that I’m not sure what the base genre which they adapted could be! They seemed to have taken the idea of folk metal and left it floating in the vast void of space long enough for the desolation and cold to twist it into something Blackened and tortured. Yes, black metal vocals are a weakness of mine, but what truly draws me in to Hoth and their massive sound is the instrumentation. With gorgeous playful acoustic pieces, mass-scope orchestral parts, and of course driving, blast-beat fueled riffage it would be easy for them to bite off more than they could chew and come across too busy, and scattered, but rather the opposite their sound is a constant source of excitement for the ear and mind. Between the uppity leads and tragic tremolos they leave plenty of room for intelligent musicianship from each member, and I can not stress how suitable these vocals are to the band’s overall style. A big favorite of mine, Hoth is.

I may as well go three-for-three on blackened-style vocalists, and this one’s a doozy. Vektor has made huge waves in the Metal scene recently, and with good reason! Everything about this band is what I have wanted ever since having my first taste of thrash metal. The riffs in this band scream forward with such assurance and coherence you could almost not realize just how fast and complex each segment of riffs is, except you do notice, because they really are just that damn fast. Every aspect of this band lends to its frantic nature, the inhumanly high-pitched, windy vocals seem to drive the drums and guitars forward to outdo themselves at every turn. Everytime this band does something to impress you, they one up themselves, often within the same song. Solo’s cum leads that blend over the blistering rhythm section are accented by screams so intense that it took me seeing them live to truly believe they were unaltered and sincere. They have moved through their career with a sci-fi theme which they stay true to, not only lyrically but musically as well. Each song that flies from your speakers with no remorse could be the soundtrack to a vast, violent and unstoppable invasion of a hive mind destructive force. I fucking love this band.

Torrefy’s The Infinity Complex album was released last August.

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