Deceased has long felt like a timeless, immovable object within heavy metal, the type of band that looks back on decades of ripped jeans and leather jackets while also being a predictor that the culture will never die. Their music recalls everyone from the Misfits, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden to early Death, Possessed, and even Darkthrone. Their lyrics run the gamut from classic silent horror movies and Scooby-Doo to 80s slasher flicks and The Blair Witch Project. Their music is based on horror and ghost stories, but there’s an unbroken innocence to it that few other bands even edging upon the extreme can claim. Deceased is staying up late as a kid and sneaking to watch that movie that your parents said was too scary, having nightmares as a result, and watching it again the next weekend.
In terms of musical foundation and construction, Ghostly White largely continues the status quo. This contains 50 more minutes of their signature death/thrash/trad, loaded to the brim with charging rhythms, melodic and hooky leads, and King Fowley’s mega-charismatic half-yell-half-growl gruff vocals. Also riffs; more riffs than you can shake a twisted spooky forest tree branch at.
But in one key way – the production – Deceased made a change that reaches into all other aspects of the album, giving it a slightly unique feel. Ghostly White has a notably rawer (grayer? whiter?) sound, which among other effects gives the riffs both a harder edge in their more hammering moments and softer, more blurred edge when things get chaotic. The machine-gunning break during the 12-and-a-half-minute monster “Germ of Distorted Lore” sounds as ultra hefty-hefty-hefty as anything on the album while serving to anchor the rest of the massive song (it doesn’t feel nearly as long as it is). Conversely, “A Palpitation’s Warning” carries almost an almost blackened feel in how the production – in combination with a nice touch of calculated slop – muddles the tiniest edges of the riffs. With a different vocalist you might think you’re listening to Norwegian black/thrash, at least until the song brings in some truly pretty soloing.
And speaking of the solos, the production also has a glorious effect on the record’s copious (copious) leads. The touches of echo and reverb often make the leads – be they of the NWOBHM motif type or straight solo – often feel as if they are floating in and out of the greater space; both essential to and independent of their surroundings. In short: they often feel ghostly. In the latter parts of opener “Mrs. Allardyce,” for example, the band employs leads and vocals at the same time, both filling the space and expanding it, something that wouldn’t be as effective with a more polished production.
Like any Deceased record, Ghostly White also has plenty of the hooking moments, be they a key Fowley vocal, riff, lead, drum hit, or glorious combination of everything. The bring it chorus in “Thoughts from a Leaking Brain”; the irresistibly classic metal riffs and huge “The devil is real! The devil is real!” passage in “To Serve the Insane”; the sudden riff-and-rhythm call-to-arms moment in “Pale Surroundings”; such signature spots are a, well, signature of the band, and seem to come totally naturally. Fowley’s vocals are the most recognizable element, but everything about the Deceased sound is based on personality, charisma, and fun, straight down to the spooooooooky samples.
Ghostly White continues the timeless tradition that is Deceased. It is as fun and loaded with all the effectively goofy personality and charisma that fans could want, plus the expected full armada-load of riffs. More than that, the tweak to the production gives it just enough of a unique vibe to make it feel extra fresh, and while it may be a little late for Halloween, it’s still a perfect album for pre-gaming an autumn horror movie marathon.
The release of Ghostly White comes in the wake of tragedy. Just this week drummer Dave “Scarface” Castillo died while visiting his family in El Salvador. The Last Rites staff sends out our deepest condolences to Dave’s family, friends, and bandmates. Dave was a huge part of music that brought so many smiles to our faces. Rest in peace.