When prog rockers Ghost Toast released Shape Without Form back in 2020 I couldn’t get enough of it. We were just entering a pandemic, the world was gradually manifesting itself into a shitstorm of unprecedented proportions and yet this crazy trio of musicians from the Hungarian wilderness put out a record that would become something of a comfort blanket through trying times. With that in mind, I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I saw the announcement for Shade Without Color, a record that has since proven itself to be a worthy follow up.
Released earlier this month, it has wriggled its way into my daily listening routine. Very much a two-part series, both records take their name from T.S. Eliot’s poem titled The Hollow Men and both feature excerpts as voice samples throughout. Considering that the albums mostly deal with the subject of emptiness and the “process of becoming empty”, it’s ironic that they almost bookmark the Covid-19 era, a time period through which lots of us have felt devoid of experience and opportunity.
However, sonically we are exposed to a very different experience. Ghost Toast are accomplished songwriters, and aren’t afraid to throw mud at the wall when it comes to crafting unique and entrancing music. They utilise huge swathes of atmosphere that will surely appeal to fans of post rock just as much as the heavier, crunching riffs will appeal to fans of prog and psychedelic rock. It is experimental by nature, but they achieve this by welding different genres together rather than feeling too avant-garde and inaccessible. Overall it’s a perfectly weighted balance, and each track seems to offer something different to the last.
“Get Rid Of” opens the album with a blast of drums and pummeling riffs that slide into more ambient, Tesseract-esq sections before climbing back into stratospheric metal. “Leaders” fuses elements of post rock and pysch before “Chasing Time” takes us on a twelve minute journey through meandering valleys of experimental goodness. It’s tracks like this where Ghost Toast really thrive. When given the space to build more patient soundscapes they can render something very special. We hear violins duelling with guitar and song structures that flitter somewhere between post metal and ambient djent. Oh, and they throw in a pretty decent guitar solo while they’re at it as well!
Other tracks like “Acceptance” see Ghost Toast adding even more diversity. A jazzy piano melody runs through the early sections of this track, before growing into a heavier song structure and eventually dropping back into groovy keyboards and quirky riffs. “Reaper Man” is a personal favourite as it explores darker, synthetic territory amidst the more metallic musicianship, but to come back to an earlier point, every track offers something different. There is intrigue at every turn.
More bands like Ghost Toast need to exist. Not just in terms of their style, but just with the bravery to go big and try something entirely new. The results can be truly outstanding and the pair of dystopian soundtracks that this trio has released is testament to that. On that note, enough of my rambling - I’m going to go listen to both albums back to back for perhaps the tenth time, and I’d very much urge you to do the same.