[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”From Roadburn’s presentation of Crumbling Ghost”]London-based troupe Crumbling Ghost brilliantly explore a huge love for Wicker Man-esque folk, open tunings and sludgy rock. Both of their albums are an eclectic mixture of original compositions and their own take on traditional folk songs – partly pastoral, partly sinister doom-metal or noise-drenched, shamanic drones. By celebrating the traditions of British folk music, its haunting folklore and the more unsettling elements of heavy metal, Crumbling Ghost are unmistakably English in essence and nature, offering a menacing journey through the superstitions, rituals, and legends of rural England.[/pullquote]
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One of the first things I remember after starting to listen to Crumbling Ghost is loudly exclaiming (at the start of the track Omie Wise) “damn – Matty Groves has gone on a nasty, drunken acid-trip”.
Which incidentally could serve as a quite good description of what Crumbling Ghost seem to be about.
Because, even though they do found themselves on the traditions of British folk(-rock), there is a definite wish to play around with (and simply around) those traditions. Crumbling Ghost have gotten the idea to marry their punk-folk leanings (with a definite leaning towards the more sad and sorrowful end of the spectrum) with a solid dose of acidy-sludge – and what an extraordinarily great idea that has turned out to be.
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Of course, you can’t simply hide the epicness of folk underneath the sludge without said epicness being determined fight an equally epic battle to come out on top, and it is this everchanging balancing of the scales that keeps the musical profile of Crumbling Ghost fresh. Of course combined with a great selection of tunes, which is pretty much an essential whenever folk is entering the fray.
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”From a review of II by The Quietus”]In looking back to go forward, Crumbling Ghost have accessed an ancient wellspring of abjection and fatalism that provides the perfect foundation for their baroque strain of psychedelic doom rock. Anybody interested in the uncanny zone of slippage between musical cultures and times occupied by artists as diverse as The Unthanks, Belbury Poly and Rose Kemp will find much to love in this album.[/pullquote]
The two albums they’ve so far released are choke-full of great moments of music and mystery, changing from one highlight to the next, at one point going straight for the jugular, just to turn-down the proceedings to allow a bit more space for the wonderful vocals of Katie Harnett, switching effortlessly between doomy escapades, scorching progressive acidrock and all-out folk-rock.
And ending the second album with a completely goosebump-inducing rendition of All Things Were Quite Silent (in itself a beautiful, dismal song) is quite simply a stroke of genius. Even though it is toned-down when compared to the rest of the album, it is also upsetting, thus not quite ending the album, as much as letting it trickle out in a sense of sadness and despair that lingers on for quite a while after the album itself has died out.
Crumbling Ghosts‘ set at Roadburn could very well be the perfect blend of blood, tears and acid.
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After writing the above, and right before getting ready to publish this presentation, I noticed the bands upcoming EP Five Songs being available on Bandcamp – so I of course had to give it a quick listen… and my immediate reaction is we’re seeing a more focused, determined band with this release, which of course promises good things for their Roadburn-set. This EP seems to showcase Katie Harnett‘s voice even more than II did, and the new rendition of Omie Wise absolutely tops the one on the debut. So, check it out – out on April 1st on CD, and available now as digital.
[thrive_headline_focus title=”Crumbling Ghost online discography” orientation=”left”]
|Crumbling Ghost||LP (2011)|
|Five Songs||EP (2016)|
Review quote from The Quietus