What do you think would happen if two such doom maestros as Daniel Neagoe (Clouds, Aeonian Sorrow) and Shaun Macgowan (My Dying Bride) were to join forces in a new musical project? Well, you need not engage in too much speculation, because that is in fact what they have done, and we have the results for you right now.
Under the name Ustkara Ghost they have completed work on a debut album named Consuming The Abyss that’s being released today, and to help spread the word we present a full stream of the album, as well as the debut of a lyric video for its longest and most multi-faceted song.
In its stylistic permutations, the music presents an amalgam of death/doom and funeral doom that’s by turns brutally crushing and hauntingly sad, unhinged in its desperation and calamitous in its oppressiveness, hypnotic when soft and harrowing when intense. It further includes a wide range of vocal expressions that help move the music among differing moods and enhance the dynamism that’s ever-present in the music.
The album’s five songs are arranged in a way that makes the most of these contrasts. The opener, “Voices Out Of The Darkness“, features drums that pop like guns and hammer and rumble in sudden paroxysms of violence, as well as dismal, craggy chords that groan and riffs that seethe and scythe, coupled with gargantuan growling roars, gloom-shadowed singing, and serrated spoken words. The music sounds feverishly deranged and vicious, but also beseeching and despairing. The song makes room for ghostly, wailing melodies but swells in intensity, into sensations of pain and hopelessness.
By contrast, “Recesses Of The Heart” is a lurching, bone-smashing monster of a song that’s cold and oppressive, crushing and calamitous, It proceeds in a slow lurching cadence, with glacial vibrating chords that morbidly drag and others that brutally chug, accompanied by miserable, moaning melodies. The drums slug the guts and crack the spine, and the gurgling gutturals are dolorous and cruel, but flare into wrenching roars.
After that experience the band turn up the dial on the energy (and the dementia) in “Downfall“, with rapidly roiling riffs and livid drum progressions. But it also includes segments of swimming celestial ambience, wailing voices, and distant, machine-like rhythms, as well as tempo-dynamic doses of jackhammering and slithering riffage pierced by squealing arpeggios. The vocals here provide an amalgam of strangled snarls and bestial bellowing, backed by drums that pound like pile-drivers and discharge burst of bullet-spitting mayhem.
For that longest and most multi-faceted song, “Drown (In The Black Well)“, which is also the subject of the lyric video we’re presenting, the duo return to the slow, stalking pace of “Recesses of the Heart”, while also incorporating mournful melodies, cosmic keys, and downcast spoken words that grow increasingly tortured. Funereal in its mien and dirge-like in its pacing, the song also introduces pearlescent, weeping notes interspersed with dismal, earth-quaking chugs and skull-busting snare hits. The song periodically leaps ahead, speeding up and becoming crazed through boiling tremolo’d fretwork and vocals that are especially frightening in their throat-tearing, flesh-threshing intensity, but also recedes to make room for a soulfully sad guitar solo.
A soft, mesmerizing keyboard melody at the outset of “Reign Of (S)insanity” provides a dramatic contrast to the shattering conclusion of “Drown“, but the lull doesn’t last long. The song becomes much heavier and more sodden with doom as it methodically stomps forward, mixing sensations of brutal stop-start hammering and savage grinding, infiltrated by gruesome abyssal gurgles. The keyboard melody returns, along with melancholy singing and the pulse of grieving melody, before things get more gruesome and gargantuan again, when it sounds like giants are applying sldegehammers to mountains, to bring them down into the sea. It’s an apocalyptic vision that comes through those sounds, with those bursts of grieving melody providing final emanations of suffering and distress.
It doesn’t take much speculation to conclude that fans of the other bands to whom Neagoe and Macgowan have contributed their talents will enjoy this new album, as well as fans of the more extreme varieties of doom generally. It’s available today, both digitally and on CD: