Album Review: Ghastly – “Death Velour”

Bluer than velvet was the night

The world is filled with hot takes and spiritual conjecture on death. It can be synonymous with atheistic worm-food, or a gateway to a new beginning. A tragedy, or a temporary state of being before reincarnation.

In Death Velour—the sophomore LP from Finnish trio Ghastly—the reaper appears as a cerulean hallucination. Scandinavian death metal’s sound and fury remains, but the band has launched past the promising murk of their Carrion of Time debut. Like Morbus Chron’s Sweven or Horrendous’ Ecdysis, Death Velour is a striking transformation.

The howling winds of “The Awakening” swirl, relenting to eerie synths and nursery chimes. But “Death by Meditation” soon reveals mastermind/multi-instrumentalist Ian J. D’Waters’ wicked design, as necromantic riffs unfold like the velvety cloth of the record’s title. Uneasy melodies disguise the menace lurking beneath, guided by the snarls of D’Waters’ collaborators (Gassy Sam and Johnny Urnripper). At first, “Whispers Through the Aether” boasts the grimy underbelly and gut-stomping Stockholm intent from Death Velour’s predecessor. Then five minutes in, D’Waters rips away the opaque black veil and reveals a parallel universe painted with psychedelic azure.

It’s not like Ghastly shy away from ground ’n’ pound pummelers. “The Magic of Severed Limbs” and their re-recording of “Violence for the Hell of It” leave bloodbaths in their wake. But nine-minute closer “Scarlet Woman” more closely embodies Death Velour’s new ambitions. Emerging from countrymen Hooded Menace’s haunted doom cemetery, it eventually rips from the sepulcher in a whirlwind of ectoplasmic tremolos. While Carrion of Time introduced many of these elements, they’ve since coalesced into an enthralling hallucination. Like the name of the record’s intro suggests, Death Velour may be Ghastly’s supernatural awakening.