The one thing Vancouver’s Burning Ghats have always had going for them is the capacity to trigger an explosion of abrasive mayhem. They sound like they’ve got high-octane gasoline for blood that someone ignites with an acetylene torch right before they kick into gear. But as time has passed, they’ve become ever more interesting, and their debut album, Something Other Than Yourself, is their best music yet.
It takes a special kind of talent to rip through 10 songs in 20 minutes, with more than half of them coming in at slightly more than a minute or less, and have each of the songs sound like they mean something. They’re like members of a big violent family — you can see the DNA all the cousins share, but they’re each distinctive. Not that you’d want to have a sit-down dinner with this family, at least not without putting away the breakables and all the sharp things.
What they share: discord and dissonance, feedback galore, hardcore fury, crust-punk chords, kidney-punching bass, drums that clatter and hit the d-beat, and vocals bled raw, like a throat being cinched with barbed wire. (Oh man, are the vocals good.)
(credit for the killer photos in this post: Ted Reckoning)
But like I said, there’s more going on here than just one visceral punch after another. “Cold People” surprises with a pulsating melodic guitar lead, more post-punk than punk. “Grief Ritual” and “Fault Line” erupt in speedy grindcore explosiveness. “Shelter Skelter” integrates heavy chugging and a head-thumping beat. “Carry the Head” starts and ends low and slow. “Sniff and Circle” delivers warped guitar chords and bass grinding before the song morphs into a tank of sure-fire mosh propellant, fast and rhythmically intense.
And the closer, “Gold Sores”, that’s the red-headed stepchild in the family. It’s bleak, acidic, and brutish, filled with windy electronic noise and a pulsing bass-tone undercurrent, a foggy battlefield on which ponderous riffs duel with shrieking feedback and everything ultimately devolves into a cacophony of violence and doom.
The songs never feel calculated or forced, but there’s clearly creative thinking behind them, a sense of a band branching out, and a level of technical proficiency in the performances that you manage to notice through all the head-whipping. It’s the kind of music you’ll want to come back to.
Something Other Than Yourself was recorded and mixed by Jesse Gander (Bison B.C., Erosion, The Pack A.D.) and was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege in Portland (Sleep, Nails, Baptists, and on and on). The cover art, as usual, was created by the band’s bass player Cam Strudwick.
The album will be available for pre-order beginning today at the Burning Ghats Bandcamp page and the 12″ vinyl version will be officially released on September 3. Relevant links are below.
And finally, we give you the intergalactic premiere of the new album’s second track, one of the short ones, “Hexes”.