Written by Valkyrjiaa
Ghosts of Shadow Moses – Nemesis
> Ontario, Canada
> Released February 24
> Syrup Moose Records
With four good boys from northern Canada coming through the threshold to command and conquer, the metalcore quartet known as Ghosts of Shadow Moses unveil one of their most vicious albums yet. Turning up the heat from the previously released Demons, Nemesis gets into the heavy and hard without even an offer to buy you dinner first.
Our introduction comes on the blazing “Cathedral” track. It’s five-and-a-half minutes of absolute madness with ear-shattering drumbeats and rhythmic, almost minstrel-like shredding. Vocals are dark, with low growls that ascend into wild highs without warning that offer us a stunning and passionate display of dedication and intensity. Alien-like melodies chime in on occasion to give us another layer of insanity as the core of this track sinks into sheer chaos. It’s one hell of an opening track that definitely grabs your attention.
“No Sanctuary” follows up with Diablo-like vibes that, of course, hit me due to the word “sanctuary” in the title. It has that adventurer feel in a wasteland of unknowns that really pulled me in. As the longest track at just over seven minutes, “No Sanctuary” does a seamless job at twisting from the unfounded and peculiar to fright and force of moving onward. It’s that happy blend of videogame soundscape and metal guitar work, backed by an infectious drum line that really had me setting this track above the others.
“Colossi” rips into us like asphalt road rash, taking no time at all to hit us with the growls and terror. “Taller than mountains, their hands could scrape the sky” is a terrifying visage to fathom; such massive beings capable of blocking out sun and moon merely by standing upright. A troubling thought but one carefully etched in the intricate layers of maddening drums and spastic guitars. The line “and lo, death was left in their wakes / Their never-ending desire to stay alive” fits a reality all too familiar, whilst still touching on fantastical features. The desire to consume, to clamber over others just to scrape by. A harshness both real and surreal laid out right before us.
The divine dog, “Cerberus” greets us with “jittering jaws devour the heart that throbs within this cage of pale”. It grinds forward on gothic-like notes with a hypnotic drumbeat and I thoroughly enjoy the ups and downs that the Ghosts of Shadow Moses takes us on, through bent and jagged corridors to the very jaws of the beast, utilizing balanced harmonies and perfectly mixed vocals. From torrential lows to fearsome highs, we not only experience the terror and expression vocally but, with musical definition as well. This song in particular mixes twirling curiosity with madness, the kind that comes to mind often when even thinking “cerberus”, and the execution is flawless.
“Humanoid” takes on a more classic, gentle introduction before leading us down a path filled with morbid artwork and ominous shadows. It’s an eloquent track that mixes metal foundations with ambient sound to create an atmospheric journey through the halls of a forgotten castle. Being a sucker for instrumental tracks, this one really sank into me and I loved that every riff and every shift had me exploring another forgotten world. From cobweb-coated bookcases, to macabre corpses in glass cases, all the way to the sterile operating table in the dungeon-like cellar. It’s definitely a track that I’ll keep on hand for all my creative and inspirational needs.
The play on writings from Antonin Artaud, who expressed humanity’s conflict with their own inner instincts and impulses, is adapted in a raw and intriguing format here. A song that comes in on similar ground is “Nightmare Creatures” – keeping the hollow, foreboding essence of the previous “Humanoid” but acquainting us with harsh vocals. The layers of terror quickly build on the grey soundscape while the fear grows within, accompanied by puzzling riffs that both confuse and terrorize. The lyrics, whilst distorted in execution as if to be fully spoken in lecture rather than sung, are disturbing. The raw aggression formatted into pure, simplistic expression is frightful, with lines like “These people are among the ones who didn’t kill the beast in themselves as it was being born” creating a myriad of theories and questions within the mind.
Tracks that follow up like “Goliath” and “The Depths” get their own momentum going with psychotic-like drumming and brutal vocal cries. They each add their own touch of horror and psychological terror to this already maddening album, keeping listeners not only on the edge of their seat, but also filled with a curiousness on the messages and emotions being displayed.
The close out comes with the heavy-hitting “Swallow the Blade” that conquers this album. With a dark and heavy intro dragging behind a gothic atmosphere, it’s an instrumental track that needs no vocal assistance to show just how frightening this band’s sound can be alone. It’s a battle, the intro of a hardened villain, and the end of the world all wrapped in one. Another track that left me in absolute awe at the levels of intricacy that the Ghosts of Shadow Moses are capable of.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This album is a creeping shadow on the wall. The final boss battle in an RPG that made you rage-quit. The cliffhanger at the end of your favourite novel. There are so many levels of atmospheric shift, intricately placed musical nods, and perfectly timed melodic lifts that kept me guessing and asking throughout. It’s utter nightmare fuel and an album that not only shows the band’s skill in the industry but their creative twists as well. These Canadian boys have really got something otherworldly going on