REVIEW - Ghosts Of Men - 'Exhale' (Album)
'Of course, I used to know them when they played round here!'. It's been heartening to see Colchester's Ghosts Of Men's (Adz - Drums and Vocals & Cleggy - Guitar & Vocals) stock rise to the point where they're now on the festival bills at Bloodstock and Hard Rock Hell and that this second album 'Exhale' is reviewed in the likes of 'Classic Rock' and 'Metal Hammer' magazines along with pieces on the guys themselves. If you are facing a little trepidation about yet another hard pounding drummer and his fuzz-toned friend on guitar / bass, fear not - Ghosts Of Men are nothing like The White Stripes or even Royal Blood, and 'Exhale' is a varied and exciting record full of great tunes, big riffs, top-notch percussion and a general sense of a band at the top of their game with greater heights still to come.
After an atmospheric opening with the (dare we say slightly Floydian) opener 'Breathe', the album revs up with four atypical Ghosts Of Men tracks - the staccato, insistent riffing and propulsive drums of 'Tell Me Why', the intense 'Crooked Back' which roars through the early verses and choruses on a wave of fuzzy guitars and metronomic drumming before dropping down to a more groovesome beast halfway through (although retaining its intensity), the equally fierce 'Trouble' with its explosive finish ('Said You Were Trouble' indeed) and the twisty riffs of 'Saviour' complete with a samba-like percussive breakdown. They are four tremendous tracks that show off what a powerful live and recording band the duo are and are the tracks that will pull in those people with heavier tastes to the Ghosts Of Men fold. As a first half to the album, it is a fantastic, energy laden beast of a half.
It's the second half of the album that shows off the production touches (again with the excellent Tom Donovan helping out) that proves Ghosts Of Men are not just about pulverizing guitar riffs and wall-pinning drums. 'You Can't Help Me' is a gloriously pulsing track with its descending chord sequence and another big chorus while 'It's Okay' brings the funk a little and intersperses its stop-start riffs with a couple of spoken word bridges which brings to mind another band associated with Colchester back in the 90s. When it was released as a single last year, 'I Don't Feel Right' was another bruising, colossal, fuzzy beast of a track, but here it's given an acoustic treatment that shows GOM's songwriting talents that lies behind the glorious noise; like a number of tracks on the album it reaches into a dark place lyrically with a tension that matches the 'high-wire' tunes musically (and sounds a little like 'Heart Shaped Box'!). 'Hold On' features rapper Samantics and again shows the guys willingness to experiment while closer 'Bullet' returns the album to buzzing riffs and angsty, quick-fire sounds before finishing on a soaring outro and a very final drum-flam!
'Exhale' is thirty-two minutes of indispensable rock - tightly wound, angsty and melodic that urges you to shout-along and is a very, very, satisfying listen. With an album this good and one of the best live bands around these parts, this album will hopefully take Ghosts Of Men onto the next level and find them in bigger venues and higher up on those festival bills. Please pop back and see us from time to time though guys!!
'Exhale' is available on all the usual digital sites and you can purchase a CD copy from the band's Bandcamp page - www.ghostsofmen1.bandcamp.com. Vinyl versions will be available from the Bandcamp page from September.