At some point I’d waken up from myself in hanging reflection and wanting every thing to change, at least until I’d slept again. The holy ghost, the cartoonish spirits that haunt, the hungry ghost (“preta”) of addiction and poorly unified characteristics of spirituality and imagination versus real uncontrollable ‘Self’ sees no fantastic radiation haloing the functionally unrequited haunter. The “meat” of mankind imagining its husk-form free of animating onus is nothing as lucid as astral projection but a primordially tapped deathwish in captivity of flesh. If that’d begin to sound as suicidal corporeal disembodiment consider that the idea comes from Christianity, the body is bound by the “law of sin” and cannot be saved without purified soul. Crafting this cruel separation of action as causal impetus for self-actualization means the burden of collective (and ruefully selective) ethics disenfranchises the necessary burden of guilt for communal humanity. Cannibalize the imagined body to retain zealous sanctity ’til fat, the body is yet the archangel and the the ghost a guiltless destructor on a high of eternal forgiveness. Yet the admiration of those soaring sustains an addiction by itself, a mind set upon freedom and fulfillment is the most potentially high. Lafayette, Louisiana-based progressive sludge metal duo Radiant Knife are yet haunting long after their bodily business has left its indelible mark, a captivating choir of ascension realized as ‘The Ghost‘ hovers and beams upon its slow-dissolving ‘unfinished business’. The second of a pair of -inseparable- EP releases, ‘The Body‘ and ‘The Ghost‘, comes as a complete divergence from most anything the band had done previous. Today we extrapolate the latter, ‘The Ghost’, a full-album length ethereal sludge rock dirge.
Although ‘The Ghost’ is about ten minutes longer than ‘The Body’ I’ll have considerably less to say about it due to the entirety of the album featuring similar pacing, performance, and general structural presentation. Yes, there are deeper nuances and some of Radiant Knife‘s signature well-veiled rhythmic complexities but none of this is meant as performative aplomb so much as affecting and emotionally driven music. These are sludge rock spirituals in essence and becoming lost in the ecstatic drape of its ~37 minute monodirectional ebb is key. “The Grand Decay” is somehow pulverizing, a hymn that clutches at my neck and insists upon some vague penitence before it smokes away, down the chest directly into “True Believers”. It is the ethereal stoner/sludge rock version of a soul’s funereal release from the wheel of bhāvacakra. These two three and a half minute songs are enough to sell the entire double album when it inevitable releases but thankfully the other 30 minutes of ‘The Ghost’ likewise deliver lofty sludge rock pieces that are yet of the aethyr in general, guided by showers and haloes of celestial synth and the beautifully rendered recordings. As I’d stated with ‘The Body’, this is Radiant Knife with all of the edges removed, a glossy and pristine hyper-spiritual rendering of what is unquestionably the most professional and serious work from the duo to date.
“Surrender” brings in a big riff in a very gentle way where the interplay with the bass is artfully mapped to start. The song does eventually go where most of these pieces do, the more downtrodden later half of the 90’s where those who’d survived heroin with some talent in tact found solace in balladry. Guitarist/vocalist Stephen Sheppert‘s style and diction is notably different throughout this album, surely influenced by some measure of this late grunge period though more than likely ah via albums that are distantly adjacent within classic Los Angeles rock spheres such as ‘Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop’-era Stone Temple Pilots or perhaps the somewhat underrated first return of Jane’s Addiction (see: “The Light Born From Dark”). Of course none of this makes literal sense outside of the context of post-metal and the duo’s taste for different forms of mathy, unique rock music be it noise rock or early post-rock acts. Kitschy as some of that description might sound ‘The Ghost’ is yet a modern album yet infused with the sensibility of current yet somewhat vague niche artistry. That is to say that these are not pop songs so much as they are, again, mournful spirituals from very refined swamp-rockers.
The only piece that begins to labor the feeling and the point of ‘The Ghost’ is “Give up the Ghost” for my taste, it comes slow and late in the spin and hangs there for such a long time. Though the running order is completely neat in placement and entirely intentional, not to be touched, I’d come to want at least two minutes shaved off of that piece to keep things moving. With that said, most of the time I’d return to ‘The Ghost’ for a second listen I’d already begin anticipating the first three songs that kick off the album. The keystone of the full listen lies in the end, where exuberance and hope beyond death arrives via “The Light Born From the Dark”. This is a fine example of the Radiant Knife we’ve known for a few years channeled via this cleaner, more precise sound. The use of effects and their refrain makes the endpoint a considerable event to leave the album with. This would often stifle the chance to sit in reflection afterwards as the impulse was either to re-listen to that piece or flip back to the first two pieces. There is some instant gratitude to the listen that is going to likely be sickening to some, affecting to others and I’ve no qualms with being socked and laid out by such a feat. Of course this is an appreciation of what I am given and not what potential of what the band contain, certainly the vocals could be even more ambitious beyond the stoney dream-like swirling ether the provide. There isn’t much else I’d gripe about otherwise. A high recommendation, but with the caveat that you absolutely shouldn’t touch it until you’ve sat with ‘The Body‘ first, the juxtaposition and the journey between the two is incredibly vital for the overall impact of the combined experience.
|RELEASE DATE:||October 9th, 2020|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
Progressive Sludge Metal
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