Starting out as a hardcore punk band with metallic influences or as some people like to call “crossover”, Neurosis slowly but surely ditched their initial style for a more experiment sound. Taking cues from bands that doesn’t fit into the standard of “metal” such as Godflesh and Swans, their later sound is heavy, repetitive and yet sparse. There is more focus on the atmosphere being created. Synths, tribal drumming, chants, acoustic guitar passages were all being utilized to achieve a big, thunderous, epic sonic assault.
A band called Isis similarly followed their steps a few years later. Guitarist/songwriter Aaron Turner is also the founder of Hydra Head Records which has produced countless of new generation of bands playing their own twists of extreme music rooted in hardcore punk and metal.
It was only a matter of time before the world took notice. Thanks to the presence of the internet, bands started popping out from different parts of the world. The term “post-metal” and “post-rock” was on people’s lips on internet messageboards and music forums. And before you know it, bands like Russian Circles, Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky got invited to play music festivals all around the world.
I saw Ghaust for the first time in December 2008 and to be honest, it didn’t make much of an impression on me (the fact that their songs are longer than 5 minutes didn’t really help, I have an attention span of a 10-year old). However, with subsequent listens I became more and more absorbed by the music. One day it just clicked with me and I said to myself “this is good!”.
It would be easy to dismiss Ghaust as simply trying to ride the “post-metal” wave since there are only a very few bands playing this sort of music in Indonesia. But if you listen to their music closely, then you’d find that they actually put their own spin and ideas and it’s actually pretty damn excellent.
Consisted of only a guitar and a drum, Ghaust choose to keep things straight-forward, riffs to riffs, one section to another. They don’t rely on huge built-up, subtle chord progressions like Isis did. What makes their music interesting is the fact that they can go from a melodic mid-tempo section, to a fast hardcore-punk inspired bit, to a quiet ambient/post-rock passage in a blink of an eye. The closest I can compare them to would probably be Pelican's early stuff. They share similar guitar tone, although Pelican's is more bass-y and Ghaust’s has more clarity and crisp. They both have that doom but melodic riffs thing going for them. Neither of them have vocals, either.
For a relatively new band (starting in mid 2005, I believe), Ghaust have made a name for themselves. They’ve released a self-titled cd and few splits with Pazahora from Singapore and Aseethe from USA, and Black Waves from Germany. They’ve also just returned from what I heard, a relatively successful Malaysian and Singapore tour along with another local, Kelelawar Malam.
I believe that Ghaust has a potential to improve themselves with each release. Looking at their level of productivity and ambition, a tour to a western country doesn’t seem that far out of reach if they can manage not to break up too soon.
Here are a couple videos from their set at Tribute to Joneh show at Rossi a few weeks ago. It’s a shame that their set was so short. I will say that it’s not the best Ghaust performance I’ve seen. The drummer looks a bit tired and unenthusiastic although the latter is probably just how he looks :D
Enjoy the videos, fellas.
Ghaust - Return Fire
Ghaust - Sleep And Release