02. My Heart is a Tomb
03. Into the Black Light
04. Lost in a Loop
05. 22.22 Nihil
06. Architect of New Beginnings
08. Concealed Revulsions
09. Secrets of the Earth
10. A Storm Inside
2009 Season Of Mist
No, Ghost Brigade isn't the title of the latest Syfy Channel Original; it's a melodic, doomy band from Finland. Finland must be the most depressing country on Earth. You'd think that with all of the crestfallen, sludge-compacted bands that are comprised of Finns, it would be difficult for any up-and-comers to sound original. But Ghost Brigade does just that, despite unfair, if not well-founded Katatonia comparisons.
I hear more of Swallow the Sun and Ajattara than I do Katatonia. Granted, vocalist Manne Ikonen's clean vocals do mirror those of Jonas Renkse, but only slightly. The ratio of growling to singing is just right. The vocal melodies are reasonably catchy. I love despondent music with cursive, watery production. Songs like "Lost in a Loop" and "22:22 Nihil" sound like running streams of red saline, for lack of a better simile. The strings on the former are a nice touch, too.
Isolation Songs isn't strictly a mood piece. It's also pretty damn heavy, and I could see people moshing to some of this stuff. While frowning. Now, this isn't a perfect album. Lead single "My Heart is a Tomb" smacks of a sedated Soilwork (note: I'm not crazy about Soilwork). The dreary, melodramatic lyrics/songtitles are pitifully clichéd, but such histrionics come with the territory, I suppose. That's more of an observation than a complaint.
A handful of tracks could use intermittent soloing. "Architect of New Beginnings" feels bare and incomplete, which isn't to say that guitarists Tommi Kiviniemi and Wille Naukkarinen are inadequate players. Quite the contrary; they manage to conjure up their fair share of menacing, kidney-tickling (?) riffs. Check out the maleficent riffing on "Birth" and "Suffocated." Good times, good times.
Bottom Line: Pour Opeth, Daylight Dies, Swallow the Sun and (wait for it) Katatonia into a ceremonial goblet, and you'll get a toothsome elixir called Ghost Brigade. I haven't heard their debut, but I can vouch for Isolation Songs. I'll definitely be giving it further spins. I can already sense the lesser tunes beginning to grow on me. This is one potent album.