We’ve long passed the time where djent-inspired, progressive metalcore feels fresh (jaded ears would unfairly call it rotten from the start), but Danish act Ghost Iris offer up an answer in the form of the delicious, ripe Apple of Discord. What separates this record from the more standard-issue prog metalcore is in the execution.
Sure, the band’s approach falls somewhere between Erra and Heart of a Coward in its feisty, ethereal style, but this record is so damn solid from start to finish that it’s impossible not to be impressed. It also doesn’t hurt that, like the best apple orchards, Ghost Iris offer up a solid variety of sonic flavors throughout. Each song contains similar elements, but songs vary in style and execution. To compare the soulful, airy “Beauty in Expiration” to the straight-to-the-jugular “The Rat and the Snake” is to hear how well-balanced Apple of Discord is.
That gets at why this is such a solid, full statement. Progressive metalcore is often a style best exemplified by its moments: a downtuned riff, a soaring chorus, or a furious breakdown. Interestingly, all of those elements are on display here, but Apple of Discord doesn’t work, because certain songs are great (though they are); this album is impressive because it’s a cohesive whole.
It’s short and efficient, sure, but Ghost Iris excel in long-form, where all their strengths can show forth. Most notably, the twin-guitar attack lends itself to many repeatable moments, from the first catchy verse of “The Devil’s Plaything” to the wonderful outro in “Virus,” Apple of Discord reveals a band playing at the top of their game.
That’s what’s important here. While many have written off progressive metalcore, those looking for the style done in a near-perfect manner will fall in love with Ghost Iris’ latest. It’s literally loaded with all the ingredients that make it entertaining, but few have been able to put them together in such an enjoyable manner. Apple of Discord won’t win any awards for originality, but Ghost Iris underscore the importance of doing your thing really damn well.