Outre- Ghost Chants (Godz Ov War Productions)

Gripping and mystifying.

When every other album you pick up is adorned with goat-skulls and corpses, it can be rather easy for much of the darker side of art to lose it’s edge. Cynicism and fatigue set in and suddenly the illusion has disappeared, the man behind the black curtain has revealed himself. It’s easy to see a lot of the inherit flaws and silliness in music like this when that mindset sets in. But every now and then, something will come along, an album or a song, that envelops you in it’s shroud of darkness and takes you back to that place where it still held the power to enthral and frighten you. Poland’s Outre has managed to evoke that elusive sensation for me with their new album Ghost Chants.

But while Outre, brain-child of guitarist Damian Igielski, may hail from Poland, they certainly don’t sound typical of bands originating from there. Rather than the brickwalled production and sledgehammer approach to song-writing typified by other Polish acts such as Behemoth and Hate, Outre takes their influences in a more Westerly direction, adopting the atonality and atmospheric heft of French groups like Deathspell Omega. Take Chant 2- Shadow for example, it’s probably the closest thing to a straightforward track yet still twists and turns with malevolent intent. Oh, and get used to the “chants” for song titles by the way, every track on here is considered to be part of the larger “chant” that makes up the whole album.

What really makes this material so compelling however is the vocal work of one Messer Strawrogin who, despite only being a session singer for a band currently lacking a full time vocalist, manages to bring that oh so elusive of qualities; a varied and subtle performance from a harsh vocalist. He growls, shrieks, gurgles and moans as the music requires him to, calling to mind the weirdness and power of vocalists like Attila Csihar from Mayhem while still retaining a distinct identity. Such as in Chant 5- Equilibrium, a real dirge if there ever was one, it is carried by Strawrogin’s vocals. This is an album where the vocals work together with the music to elevate the material as a whole and is a welcome deviation from so many other cookie cutter approaches to this kind of music.

At 36 minutes, the material paces itself really well and you’ll find yourself wanting to hit that repeat button in no time. While it won’t be the most ground-breaking thing you hear this year, it’s is certainly not run of the mill. Any fans of black metal are doing themselves a massive disservice by not hearing this.

Ghost Chants is out now.