Galaktik Cancer Squad- Ghost Light

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Some albums take time to sink in, but there are others that you know right from the beginning are going to blow you away. Galaktik Cancer Squad’s Ghost Light had this effect on me, as the German one-man project has an incredible mix of death metal, black metal, post rock, and even some prog that work together to create absolutely stunning soundscapes. This was initially an instrumental only project but over time has changed to include vocals, and creator Argwohn has been quite busy with releases as he put out two full lengths last year. Ghost Light marks the first time a Galaktik Cancer Squad album is getting a proper physical release, and it’s safe to say that the timing couldn’t be better as the material is some of the most stunning yet.

The blurbs I’ve seen for this album tag it as progressive black metal and while this is definitely the primary style there is also a little bit of death metal in there too, as the album closer “Hypnose” had some elements that reminded me quite a bit of technical/progressive death metal. But it really doesn’t matter what you categorize the more aggressive elements of Ghost Light as, because what will truly grab most people is the interplay between the harsh and melodic instrumentals. Galaktik Cancer Squad starts off with fast paced assaults and layers swirling melodies over top of them that twist and turn in a truly captivating manner. But Argwohn doesn’t stop there, as rather than simply making this another release of “atmospheric black metal” the melodic sections hop between different genres as well. There are moments that head into a post rock type of tranquility, and others that almost go full-on prog and have a very spacey feel. Each of the five songs has surprises in store for listeners, and despite the longer running times it never feels as though any of these ideas overstay their welcome. Ghost Light has been produced in such a way that gives it a perfect mixture of intensity and atmosphere, upping the noise level during the denser assaults and scaling back when the melodies take over.

I’m glad that Argwohn has decided to start adding vocal arrangements into this material, as it adds an extra layer to the already dense arrangements. While the album may end with a fifteen instrumental track, the rest of the four songs have prominent vocal arrangements and the style tends to stick around the lower range. Argwohn has a mean growl that is strong enough to stand above the instrumentals, and I suspect some careful mixing played a role in this as well as if the vocals were too far back they could’ve gotten lost in the dense waves of sound. I particularly like the style that has been utilized on this album, as the deeper growls serve as a nice contrast to the melodic instrumental work. The instrumental only moments are still top notch, but hopefully this project continues to utilize some vocal performances in the future as it really helps to elevate some of the ideas to a whole other level.

Each time I made my way through Ghost Light I was impressed that this is all the work of one person, as there are numerous multi-person bands that can’t match up to the level of entrancing atmosphere and technical showmanship that is present on this album. Like any good group that’s considered to be atmospheric or progressive, this is the type of work that you can listen to and get lost in and it’s exciting to see that Galaktik Cancer Squad seems to be accomplishing this in a slightly different way than everyone else. It’s probably already obvious at this point, but this release really left an impression on me, and it’s one of my personal highlights of the year.

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