Sometimes, when I go hunting for new and intriguing releases, I come across band names that just stick to my mind instantly. Understandably, Galaktik Cancer Squad is one of those names. Despite the obvious implications brought about by having the word squad present in your project title, GCS is, in fact, a one-man black metal act, helmed by the anonymous Argwohn, that hails from Hamburg, Germany. The music is focused heavily on an exceptionally melodic and majestic progressive style of black metal that really sticks out from the crowd. Ghost Light is the fourth full-length album to be released in a roughly three-year period, but feels well-rounded and crafted without any signs of a rushed production, which is in itself a sign of either pure unbridled mania or pure musical devotion.
Musically, this album is quite a ride with rich fluid melodies and bombastic rhythms. It all mixes well together into a fine blend of rough vocals, intricate harmonic riffs and just the right amount of blackened structure to maintain a rough core. The varied compositions within Ghost Light are its primary strength; far from a rinse and repeat style of underwhelming repetition, Ghost Light offers a wide variety of inspiration in its running time, and songs such as “Ethanol Nebula” really blow me away with a perfect mix of screeching blackened guitars and heavy trampling percussion. “In Lichterlosen Weiten” is the strongest track of the whole album with its atmospheric structures, laced with caustic harmonious tremolo and epic, almost apocalyptic riffs that are all mixed up with melodious piano parts and appropriate harsh vocals. Overall, the best parts of the album are the constantly mutating structures of the songs; sure, they may not amount to anything groundbreaking, but they are extremely effective in terms of atmosphere and intensity, and really give Ghost Light a life of its own. The tracks are all fairly long, yet never slip into a repetitive or boring state — one sign among many that Argwohn knows what he is doing.
Great as it may be, Ghost Light is like a wooden roller-coaster to me. It peaks somewhere around “In Licterlosen Weiten” and is a bit lacking in variation and inspiration in both “Ethanol Nebula” and “Hypnose”. Ghost Light still exists as a great album, but certain songs just don’t burn through to my soul the way the rest of the album does. Still, this is a slight complaint in an otherwise fine album. In the end, long majestic songs, a somewhat intriguing evolution of black metal, and a damn fine production gives Ghost Light my recommendation to anyone into progressive black metal.
01) Ethanol Nebula
02) When the void whispers my name
03) In Lichterlosen Weiten
04) Ghost Light