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Drug Honkey – Ghost in the Fire

Drug Honkey

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
–Bansky

Chicago-based experimental doom metal ensemble Drug Honkey are among those artists whose musical legacy has echoed verily with the above-stated quote of Bansky. Ever since their inception in 1999, they have veered into uncharted territories and have developed an unorthodox modus operandi which has distinguished them from their doom metal counterparts. Sadly, however, they haven’t received the amount of recognition which they actually deserve, even after actively releasing four full-lengths in a career spanning almost 14 years. It was during 2010 when India’s Diabolical Conquest Records decided to distribute the band’s third full-length entitled Death Dub (originally released in 2008), and hence exposed their demented cacophonies to a wider audience.

Four years later, the band returned with their fourth album, entitled Ghost in the Fire, which is evidently their most accomplished effort to date. Despite the numerous delays which have haunted the release of this bestial progeny, it finally saw the light of day during May 2012 and manifested itself as a slab of tenebrous, grimy and unconventional doom metal that oozes with a psychotropic atmosphere. Although one may simply brand Drug Honkey as an experimental doom metal band, it doesn’t do enough justice in describing their sound succinctly. Whilst the song writing approach on Death Dub was atonal and noisy, Ghost in the Fire is a slightly mature and less outlandish effort than that. However, it does retain the sinister ambiance of its predecessors and elevates it to a new realm of notoriety.

Musically, the band’s drone-doom influences have taken a more evident form here as the slow plodding guitars and drums are reminiscent of Khanate or maybe even Bongripper, for instance. Heavily distorted bass sections are further used to support the guitar-driven dirges. There are occasional tremolo sections which add a feverish clamor to the decrepit and hideously slow guitar riffs. It isn’t a surprise that they chose to include a Scorn cover (“Twitcher”) as the menacing industrial tunes pioneered by Mick Harris’s visionary project have a huge role to play in the musical inception of Drug Honkey. They have definitely borrowed a lot of influences from the sludgy, bone-crushing heaviness of old Scorn albums, especially Vae Solis. It isn’t often that industrial sounds are so cleverly juxtaposed with torturously slow guitar and drum sections in order to create such a unique and profound blend of diverse genres.

Besides the laudable compositional prowess of the band, they have very smartly used a plethora of production techniques to enrich the album’s sound and provide a harrowing experience to the listeners. Paul Gillis aka Head Honkey’s vocals sound increasingly menacing with the usage of excessive reverb and voice modulation which makes him sound like a deranged psychopath yearning for human blood. This approach was eventually instrumental in making the album sound so hallucinatory and doped out. It is no surprise why the band was christened ‘Drug Honkey’.

The only issue with the album is probably its lack of variation, especially when compared with Death Dub, which was not as musically cohesive as Ghost in the Fire, yet it still kept the listener guessing. It may not be an amusing album for a traditional drone-doom or sludge doom aficionado, nor would it appeal to fans of traditional industrial music, but for those whom dare to experiment with their musical tastes and want some fresh extreme music, Ghost in the Fire should be an adventurous or a rather mind-bending experience.

Track List:

01) Order of the Solar Temple
02) Ghost in the Fire
03) Weight of the World
04) This Time I won’t Hesitate
05) In Black Robe
06) Dead Days (Heroin III)
07) Five Years Up
08) Out of my Mind
09) Twitcher (Scorn Cover)
10) Saturate/Annihilate

Rating: 3/5
Written by: Ankit
Label: Transcending Obscurity (India) / N/A / CD
Experimental Doom Metal