Sunday 4 October 2020


They say everything is big in Texas and that includes the music. Houston based quartet Ghost Ship Ritual, Andrew Ackerley (drums); Justin Nunez (guitars); Bill Ledgerwood (guitars/synthesizers/vocals) and Kevin Neiman (bass), do their utmost not to debunk this legend by creating grooves that fuse elements of lysergic textured psych with elements of proto-flavoured doom and gritty stoner rock then add into the mix a little cosmic bluesy funkiness, it is a sound that is not just big is damn HUMUNGOUS! Don't believe us well then wrap your ears around the bands debut full length album "Tenth Region Of The Night".

Opening instrumental "Megalabong" is built on a foundation of thunderous percussion over which equally thunderous bass and guitar refrains battle for supremecy. If that was all there was to this tune it would still be enough but GSR are not a band to do "just enough" and so proceed to decorate the songs groove with clever touches of textured synth and swirling blues tinted guitar solos. The quaintly titled "Old Gumbo McGee" follows and jams a stuttering groove heavily reliant on distorted guitar tones and growling bass refrains that are sporadically interrupted with Colour Haze(ish) lysergic lead guitar colouring. Vocals, clean and melodic, enter the fray for the first time on next track "Moon Chamber" a song that utilizes Hawkwind-esque swirling synth effects but has a groove that leans more towards something that Sweden's My Brother The Wind might attempt. "Kaiju", like its name suggests, is a lumbering beast of an instrumental with a strong stoner doom dynamic, its blend of thick heavily fuzzed guitar riffs, grizzled bass lines and pummeling percussion is cleverly overlayered with some fiery lead work while "Rigel IV" goes the other way and has the feel of a soundtrack for a not yet released, or even realised, Sci-Fi movie. "The Tower" continues the soundtrack vibe of the previous track but raises the tempo slightly by adding a little heavy psychedelic bite to the proceedings. Title track "Tenth Region of the Night" begins with a phased out wha pedal guitar riff chopped out against a backdrop of synthesised keyboard effects then erupts into what can only be described as an exotic heavy space groove over which the guitarists employ eastern flavoured scales and modes to give the song an air of cosmic spiciness. Up next is "Dead Man's Soul" a beautifully atmospheric opus that slowly builds from a humble cosmic blues, with the singer asking "where is the sunshine" in hazy clean tones, into a mind-blowing heavy psych workout with a dark doomic undercurrent. This superbly constructed album is closed out with "Mountains of Madness" a sprawling instrumental with an undulating dynamic that sees liquid bass lines, scorching guitar solos, intricate drum patterns and swirling synthesised effects weaving in and out of each other to create a truly stunning musical soundscape.

 There are places, on their new album, that Ghost Ship Ritual wander into the experimental territories inhabited by the likes of Seven that Spells, Causa Sui and the aformentioned My Brother The Wind, in others they hit a groove that reminds this writer of the more soaring guitar orientated heavy psych forays of Comacozer and Iglesia Atomica and as if that were not enough they then further muddy the waters by also blending into this heady mix of styles the occasional element of low, slow and heavy stoner doom. It is this combination of styles, grooves and genres that makes "Tenth Region of the Night" such a compelling listen and one that once heard will never be forgotten.
Check it out .... 

© 2020 Frazer Jones

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