Judging an album by its cover can often lead you into a dark and deranged world like the strange aural universe that Ghastly reside in. This Finnish trio’s new album, Mercurial Passages, is a 7-song opus adorned with a creepy and surrealistic painting by Finnish Artist Rikka Pesonen. The twisted image is a perfect representation of what Ghastly’s warped death metal is all about and it speaks to the fusion of psychedelic rock and death metal (with a touch of prog rock) that these Finn’s also nailed on their 2018 album Death Velour (with another trippy cover by Pesonen).
With Mercurial Passages, Ghastly have released their second collection of off-kilter death metal for 20 Buck Spin (and their third LP overall along with their first LP, Carrion of Time). In the vein of Finnish death metal luminaries like the mighty Demilich and Demigod, Ghastly have a knack for fashioning beautifully horrid and penetrating death metal without having to constantly bludgeon you into oblivion. There’s also plenty of catchy riffs and time changes to keep you prog-death heads interested and even some doom metal influence. Atmosphere and melodicism also abound on Mercurial Passages proving that Ghastly are more concerned with working their insidious tunes into your (sub)consciousness than tearing holes in you psyche.
Ghastly is fronted by Ian J. D’Waters who plays all instruments and who did a brilliant production job on Mercurial Passages during that horrid plague-riddled year of 2020 (). D’Waters is joined by vocalist Gassy Sam (who was the sole vocalist on the first two Ghastly albums) and guitarist/vocalist Johnny Urnripper who just joined the band for this release. The varying harsh vocal styles of Gassy and Urnripper add to the uniqueness of the trio.
From beginning to end, Mercurial Passages is one of the best shadowy and delirious death metal releases so far this year. With three tremendous albums to their credit, Ghastly continue the tradition of unique and tremendous Finnish death metal. If we’re lucky, J. D’Waters and his unholy crew will tour the globe but for now, you’ll have to journey into their surreal world via CD, vinyl or Bandcamp download. Within the span of just 40 minutes, Ghastly will take you on their inimitable mind-flaying metal journey and into the realms of their twisted Finnish darkness. 9/10
Ghastly‘s Mercurial Passages was released on May 28th, 2021 via 20 Buck Spin