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Ghost Toast - Out of This World CD (album) cover


Ghost Toast

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4 stars Hungarian band Ghost Toast is getting some serious attention, after years of relative oblivion, mainly because their latest 2022 album is high on most prog charts. As per norm, I read a rather glowing review from a colleague which got me intrigued, proceeding to latch onto the 2017 Out of This World album. The interest stems from the fact that contrary to popular belief, I am not just fixated on mellower, idealistic melodies, as I do love the heavy hitting, especially when its not an overt technical display and possesses loads of atmosphere. This Debrecen-based band infuses sound effects but mostly voiced tapes from speeches or film scripts, only rarely using real vocals, in order to add the appropriate story to the incredibly technically profound music they dish out. The crew is composed of four supremely talented musicians, namely guitarist Bence Rozsavolgyi, drummer Laszlo Papp (same name as a legendary Hungarian boxer), bassist Janos Stefan and keyboardist /cellist Janos Pusker. Their musical recipe is quite original in the use of effects but their instrumental prowess verges on the insane, stretching from one extreme, all the way to the other end of the spectrum, either very hard or very soft. No plodding to be found here! It has been stated that one of the interesting aspects of Led Zeppelin was the particular symbiosis between Page's riffs and the ability of Bonham to specifically interplay his beats and fills with him. I feel that the same recipe exists here as Papp and Rozsavolgyi seem to be devilishly in synch throughout this release.

I stuck in CD into my van's player, ready for a 3-hour drive to Quebec City for work, cranked up the volume and pressed the pedal. The record kicks off with a few seconds of keyboard serenity before the musical cyclone hits, the electric guitar powerfully blasting in between the hard drum flexes, as the supple bass climbs up and down the north/south ladder while the mood cleverly swings to the east/west guitars clearing the way ahead. Thank you very much in Hungarian!

"Gordius" (name of the Phrygian king who was responsible for the Gordian Knot) follows pretty much the same formula, a chugging slice of brash adventure with vibrant modern synths that almost hints at techno, as Bence and Laszlo assault the senses with utter impunity. Yes, they can play the contrasts, with constant ebb and flow, peaks, and valleys! The mournful cello adds nearly classical grace and elegance to the aural landscape. When the track ends, the silence is deafening. Phew!

Time to seek out new atmospheres as the hypnotic electronic effects as well as whispered voices and twinkling piano add unexpected and spectral mystery to "Alia". The polyrhythmic drum shuffle slowly evolves into a mental spiral where only that lovely cello seems to have any semblance of direction as the piece grows into more sorrow and melancholia. The final 2 minutes the emphasis is now on the bass-led groove that blossomed out of all this sonic nirvana. Cleverly brilliant.

The meat of the album gets more precise and focused on the hugely cinematic "The Dragon's Tail" with a bombastic edge that elevates the celestial intensity, veering into symphonic prog territory. Piano and synths lead the syncopated percussive fills to perfection, and you just feel the impending guitar onslaught just waiting to be unleashed in the last three minutes. Boom! Papp is quite colossal here, thumping like a madman. The glorious cello escorts the Dragon back to his cavern, holding him by his appendage.

Change of pace? You bet! "Minotaur" at first sounds like a Gavin Harrison shuffle on a Porcupine Tree album, with pinging synths and assorted bubbly electronics a la Barbieri. The cello enters again to further flavor the eclectic groove, setting up the noisy guitar slashes pulling up the rear. And then the band decide to start cooking some hot music, rambling piano not withstanding. Rapid, devastating and extremely powerful. Breathtaking.

Time for a bit longer epic piece, the 8 minute 13 of "Kaia" (an ancient Greek word which can be any of the following, your choice: pure, each of two, one hundred, far away or ?. torture!), a sprawling excursion that has obsessive and angelic voices, swerving bass and manic drums. Almost a heavier version of Ozric Tentacles' style of galactic adventure.

Doomsday messages of germ warfare aka class One emergency introduces the viral and hyper hostile "Last Man "(mostly taken from Classic movies as I detect the voice of Vincent Price). A nasty piece of bullying, harsh, feverish and pugnacious music, being both punishing and relentless. I love it because the aggressive nature does not overstay its welcome and gives room for some softer moments, again from the cello or from the zippy synths, but when the boys explode, well it really goes kapow! I even had a giggle at thought that this would be a great companion piece to Jon & Vangelis' classic the Friends of Mister Cairo but way heavier. LOL. Tremendous excitement.

The Sanskrit language "Ishvara" takes that Hindu feel to otherworldly dimensions, a more ethno-world electronic piece at the beginning, with wailing male and female prayers to Shiva. Totally unexpected experimental voyage with complex rhythmics accentuated by intricate guitar, bass, and drumming. Little hints of fellow Hungarian proggers Colorstar and Korai Orom here. Exotic in a modern setting.

The curtain comes down on the at first harsh and then exquisitely gentle "Pawn of Fate", which after the initial fury of raging riffs morphs into sounding almost like a Hungarian folk/medieval soundscape. In the course of a 3-minute song that is quite a feat!

I can see why this will appeal to a whole cross section of fans even outside of the conventional "prog" medium, not just from metal heads, but fans of Tool, Metallica, Mahavishnu Orchestra (though really not fusion), Nemo (without the vocals), etc? Bottom line, a fantastically talented new kid in my town, as I proceeded to purchase all their albums. Spoiler Alert: The next two are as good if not even better! yup

4 Spectral satellites

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Posted Sunday, June 5, 2022 | Review Permalink

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