It’s a rare but wonderful sight to watch a band grow and learn with each record, building on their talent and raw potential to create the album they had in them all along. Denmark’s Ghost Iris are such a band, treading in a style that’s been around so long it’s almost in vogue again—progressive metalcore.
Ghost Iris started out as a fairly straightforward djent group, and their first two releases showcased an ability to craft incredibly fun riffs, but aside from a few riffs, there was little that truly stood out from the wealth of djent in the last decade. Each record had at least one song that hinted at future greatness, but even going back now, there’s definitely something missing compared to later works.
It wasn’t until 2019’s Apple of Discord that potential turned into power, where quality songwriting met with soaring riffs. It definitely pulled from the Periphery, Heart Of A Coward, and Erra playbooks, but there was something uniquely compelling about Ghost Iris’ third record—everything was meant to be huge, even when the final results didn’t quite measure up to lofty ambitions.
Songs like “The Devil’s Plaything,” “The Rat & The Snake,” and “Virus” were clear standouts due to what I call djanceable riffs with fairly varied song structures. There were a few things holding the band back, like some clunky breakdowns and awkward transitions between the low-end verses and high-pitched choruses, but those were not damning issues. The result was a fun, great listen with promise if things were smoothed out a bit.
Thankfully, Comatose is like butter throughout, with the band’s best riffs, hooks, and a multitude of djanceable djent riffs. In fact, “Coda” might have my favorite djent riff in the last decade, which somehow transitions perfectly to the band’s most relaxed and melodic song to date, “Ebb/Flow.”
It’s that tunes title that gets at why their fourth record is such a delight—it just flows masterfully. It takes a lot of extra energy, songcraft, and talent to get a full-length progressive metalcore/djent album to actually work well as a full listen, and that’s what Ghost Iris have done here. Each song works well in isolation but much better in sequencing. From the blunt force beginning, the more melodic middle, and exceptionally heavy ending, Comatose is a masterclass in song order.
It helps that the band’s best riffs, melodies, and songwriting all finally come together throughout the record. There are still a couple odd transitions, but they oddly feel purposeful, like they are trying to jar the listener back awake. The record’s dark cult-like themes work wonders with the natural rise and fall of the record’s tunes. Oh, and Comatose is, above all else, fun as Hell. This is the sound of a band who know what they want to do and just reminding the listener again and again of just that. A real firecracker of a great time.
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