The latest release from British rock outfit This Year’s Ghost has quite a dark thread running through it. Dealing with the death of someone close is never easy, but talking about it, and in this case writing about it, can often be a cathartic process. This Year’s Ghost vocalist/guitarist Paul McKenzie has sadly had to deal with the death of a close friend, and the maelstrom of emotions that follows such a tragedy forms the lyrical content on ‘Taxidermy Eyes’. Even though it’s dark and highly charged, the melodic and uplifting vocals from McKenzie ensure that it never feels like the listener is intruding on someone’s grief. Take opener, ‘Old Familiar’ for instance. Punchy bass, Tremonti sized riffs, and pounding drums… you might expect some growls to go with the slamming music, but McKenzie isn’t a growler, or a Myles Kennedy high-pitched screamer, for that matter. Instead, it’s smooth, ultra clean vocals that are very much the order of the day. A perfect juxtaposition really, and one that would take newcomers to This Year’s Ghost by surprise.
‘These Hills Can Talk’ is another example. Musically less harsh than the opener, the vocal harmonies soar, and the multiple changes in pace give the song another dimension. Not as quirky and as left field as the last Biffy album, and not as heavy as the last Alter Bridge album, somewhere in the middle ground. ‘Self Made Throne’ might slow the pace down a notch or two, but the power is still there thanks to the drums. ‘The Great Divide Of Head And Heart’ is the standout track on the EP, and McKenzie’s vocals take on a sinister sound in places. Quite a grungey sound on this one. Alice In Chains and Soundgarden influences seep through and deliver a huge, catchy few moments. Closing track ‘This Fog Can Sing’ continues with the grunge vibe, but with a more modern sound overall, the sound of a band on the front foot.
‘Taxidermy Eyes’ takes a few listens before every little nuance becomes apparent. Eighteen minutes of contrasting shades, for sure, but eighteen minutes well worth switching off all distractions for.
Available now, find out more information here
Review: Dave Stott