Danish metalcore heroes, Ghost Iris, gained the attention of the mainstream metal press with 2019’s Apple of Discord, with the likes of Kerrang! and Metal Hammer recommending them to their readership as a band to watch. Now ready to conquer on their fourth album, the Danes come not in peace but with a bleak assessment of humankind. Comatose is an angry album that dares to embrace a dangerous fatalism bordering on nihilism. It also slays like a Machine Head record and delivers some of the finest choruses this side of Erra.
The first question is simple: are they heavy? Well, let the monstrous riffs of ‘Paper Tiger’ answer that. This song starts like Periphery’s ‘Ragnarok’ but soon finds a groove of its own as if presenting a technical version of Alpha Wolf for the main assault. Sebastian Linnet’s double-kick action is as powerful as vintage Fear Factory in pursuit of the thick guitar crunches emanating from the hands of Nicklas Grønlund Thomsen and Daniel Leszkowicz. You can see why they supported Jinjer and After the Burial on previous tour cycles. ‘Former Self’ is just as bruising. Here they rip through a hurricane of muscular Hatebreed rhythms but then change key for a magnificent chorus you’d expect from Lukas Magyar of Veil of Maya. At times you wonder if Ghost Iris are showing off. No band should be capable of writing five colossal chorus melodies on an album of ten songs. ‘Cult’ is as much Polyphia as Periphery, while ‘Coma’ manages to extricate the band from a swamp of Drop-F Meshuggah posturing with an emotive refrain of “Can you believe the end is near?” from vocalist, Jesper Vicencio Gün.
You might roll your eyes at the description of groove-heavy syncopations and clean chorus anthems. It’s true that this is the most predictable aspect of modern metalcore, but Ghost Iris never spoil the good work of their vicious verse attacks with weak melodies. ‘Cold Sweat’ is the best example. Here the band take a rumbling bass groove and finger-twisting guitars in preparation for a djent bomb offensive and a declaration that “Suicide is the new black.” They must include the shot of a man gearing up for the last mile of an exhausting stretch on his Peloton bike if they make a video for this song. The breakdown at the end feels like the last injection of adrenaline before the human body collapses from fatigue. ‘Power Schism’ is the perfect way to end the album with the quintessential ingredients all present – the low-tuned guitar grooves, the chunky palm-muted hooks, the metastasised rage, the emotive tenor chorus.
It’s your duty to find something wrong with this album, but you’ll come up short. If we’re being harsh, we might say that ‘Ebb // Flow’ lacks the same punch as the other tracks, yet the Karnivool mood only demonstrates the band’s ability to embrace a more progressive metal approach when needed. Ghost Iris are masters of their craft and unencumbered by doubt, despite the misanthropy of their lyrics, most of which seem obsessed with the end of mankind and the futility of believing our fate can be anything other than death. This album is not for those who are feeling down or need somebody to talk to in their darkest hour, but why should it be?
You won’t be living in a comatose state after listening to Ghost Iris. This is life-affirming music from a band that care nothing about affirming the good things in life.
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Record Label: Long Branch Records
Standout tracks: Paper Tiger, Coda, Coma
Suggested Further Listening: Alpha Wolf – A Quiet Place to Die (2020), Erra – Erra (2021), Bleed From Within – Fracture (2020)