Written by John Angel
Ghosts of Atlantis – 188.8.131.52
Symphonic blackened death metal
Releases March 26th, 2021
Via Black Lion Records
Let’s talk about goth metal. Or is it symphonic metal? Blackened symphonic death metal? Who cares! Genres are social constructs!. Let’s check out Ghosts of Atlantis’s debut record, 184.108.40.206
Made up of past and present members of Devilment, Failed Humanity, The Conflict Within, and Cold Lazarus, Ghosts of Atlantis present a fresh take on the symphonic metal sound popularized by the likes of Fleshgod Apocalypse and Cradle of Filth. Dark and macabre throughout its runtime, 220.127.116.11 has plenty of pummeling riffs from guitarists Colin Parks and Dex Jezierski, jaw-dropping fills from drummer Rob Garner, and slabs of thicc low end from bassist Al Todd. On top of this tumultuous bedrock of sound is the nasty delivery of vocalist Phil Primmer and the soaring, operatic voice of Parks. And we can’t forget the orchestral and choral elements of each song. It wouldn’t be symphonic metal without the lush classical instrumentation!
Production on GOA’s debut effort is top-notch. Recorded and produced by Parks at his own Devilhead Studios in Suffolk, 18.104.22.168 features tight and inspired performances by each member of the band. The mix is detailed and outstanding. Every instrument and element sit just right, every vocal phrase has the perfect amount of reverb and delay, every section a crushing wall of sound that still breaths. All this makes for a maximally impactful listening experience. Hats off to James Stephenson.
GOA’s songwriting is detailed and impeccable. Each song is carefully crafted for maximum emotional impact from each section and there’s a wonderful balance of screamed and sung vocal delivery. Walls of sound from the guitars backed up by solid beats from the drums flow inexorably into soaring choruses that push you to belt it out with Parks on each track. Every section is colored with great orchestral and choral arrangements, perfectly fitting into the nooks and crannies of the standard metal instrumentation. Every repeated section has a new melodic line or texture that draws your ear and builds momentum throughout each song.
My personal favorite track is the closer, “The Lost Compass”. By far the track with the most groove on the record, this song kept my head bobbing. GOA put all their tastiest songwriting tricks into this one and I found it to be the track that held my interest with all its little variations. For instance, after the first chorus, around 2 minutes into the track, we get a key change and a brand new vocal melody. And that’s the only time we hear it! I have no clue why its there but it fucking rules! I love little details and oddities like that in songs; it makes for more spice in the musical world.
Sticking to a predominantly verse/chorus form for each song, GOA still construct moments of formal brilliance that subvert our expectations as listeners. One great example is on the track “False Prophet”. Instead of repeating the chorus a third time at the end of the song, a super common thing to do, the band just doesn’t. We get a third verse which leads us to believe a chorus will follow, as it has twice already in the song, as it does on the rest of the album, as it does in 99% of songs that use verse/chorus form, but no chorus here. Just a haunting outro comprised of orchestral and choral elements. It’s a delicious subverting of musical expectations that serves the lyrical content of the song beautifully. “False Prophet” is about, well, a false prophet who comes to this mythical world to lead its people astray. Instead of leading the people to a world of peace, third choruses, and fulfilled musical expectations, we get a cult of division and chaos and a world of not hearing third choruses that were so clearly promised to us and then denied.
Speaking of false prophets, 22.214.171.124 is a concept album full of all kinds of mythical characters. GOA focus on Greek mythology in their storytelling, especially the story of the lost city of Atlantis (with a name like that it would be disappointing if they didn’t, amirite?) A clash of two great civilizations leads to a giant war complete with an intervention by Zeus himself. The survivors must make a terrible journey afterward to find peace and prosperity. The members of the band make an appearance as the “Five Ghosts of Atlantis” and seem to play a crucial role in the story as well. GOA claims to weave history and mythology together in a way that resonates with the present. I can’t help but see climate change and the crazy state of the world in 126.96.36.199’s story and I can’t help but see that in every story after living through 2020. You can read the story synopsis and lyrics on GOA’s Bandcamp and draw your own conclusions.
And what does 188.8.131.52 mean anyway? No clue! GOA is playing coy with its meaning, encouraging listeners to figure out the hidden message of the album’s title. I was unable to do so and I wouldn’t want to deprive any eager metalhead sleuths the opportunity to discover it for themselves. But the fact remains that if you’re into symphonic tinged death metal with epic, mythical themes you owe it to yourself to check out 184.108.40.206 from Ghosts of Atlantis when it drops on March 26!