Ghost Iris

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author PP date 20/06/21 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

It's been a while.

A full year and three months since our previous live review, and for this scribe, only the second live show in almost a year and a half, thanks to the worldwide pandemic. The end is nigh, masks are history, and shows are coming back, and what better way to kick off our returning live coverage than with our local djent/metalcore heroes, Ghost Iris. We're at the fancy surroundings of the immaculate Hotel Cecil, where we're greeted with the request of the Corona passport but also with two polite hostesses ready to guide us to our group's designated seating. The venue seats a good hundred people or so by the looks of it, with about three-quarters filled for tonight's show based on my rough estimates, a decent turnout on a Sunday night especially considering there's no supporting act tonight. With craft beers in our hand (another brilliant feature of Hotel Cecil) and greetings shared between friends and colleagues, we're just about ready to welcome back Ghost Iris who did an even smaller seated show a couple of months back at BETA to celebrate the release of their new album "Comatose", which was sold out almost immediately with no room for press or other guests due to stricter restrictions back then. So let's get to it, shall we?

Ghost Iris

The lights dim and an electronic interlude slowly introduces the band one-by-one with vocalist Jesper Vicencio entering the stage last to audience cheers. They immediately kick off with "Desert Dread" from the new album, complete with smoke pillars rising from both sides of the stage, and their guitarist spinning around wildly. There's a small problem with Jesper's mic being almost inaudible that's fortunately fixed almost right away, but the bigger issue is the ludicrous amount of playback being used. There are moments - presumably, those by featured artist Mark Hunter on the record - where the call/response growls are coming exclusively from the backline, which extends on other songs to numerous higher-pitched cleans and other segments. Here's the thing: this is where the other members of the band should step in and do those sections (or learn how to, if they can't yet), because without them, especially with a static and sparsely seated crowd like this one, the expression just feels fake - a bit like a plastic throwaway copy of an original product. The guest vocalist missing is one thing, but how do you explain the choral backing vocals of "Former Self" that contrast Jesper's growls so nicely on record coming from playback instead of being delivered by the rest of the band? Disappointing.

The good news is that as the set progresses, these worries slowly fade away, probably because fewer tracks require these antics, or maybe we just get used to them. Either way, the band's guitarists are in a constant flurry of action, whether swirling and bouncing around or engaged in synchronized headbangs with vocalist Jesper joining on occasion, if he's not busy boxing away at the smoke pillars as he does during "Paper Tiger", for instance. The set is largely focused on "Comatose" tracks as expected, with eight out of the twelve tracks coming off this record, though oddly the best song on the record - the R'n'B-infused "Ebb//Flow" is missing for some reason.

"Thanks for coming out Hotel Cecil, the contrast between us here and you down there couldn't be greater", Jesper points out, and he's absolutely right. Energetic djent/metalcore simply doesn't work very well as a genre with a static, seated audience compared to a moshing and moving one. There's a clear disconnect between the audience and the band - which Ghost Iris desperately attempt to rekindle by constantly engaging those audience members who are rocking wildly on their seat, whether headbanging or throwing up horns, but alas, it's difficult to create a dynamic with all the restrictions in place. Here, other musical styles like progressive metal or indie rock just work better, unfortunately, and it's not for the lack of Ghost Iris trying rather than just how it is.

"Parallel Passage" is the only track aired from the debut album "Anecdotes Of Science & Soul", which Jesper announces as the only track they play from that record anymore. Sure, it's a more djent-y album than their others, but in my opinion, it's also their best, so it's shame that songs like "Phalanx" or "Magenta Pt. 2; Astral Projection" are no longer part of their setlist. "Blind World" is skipped entirely tonight as well, with only two tracks featured from "Apple Of Discord" from a couple of years back: "Final Tale" and tonight's closing number, "The Rat & The Snake".

At the end of the day, tonight's show feels like a showcase where the focus is entirely on "Comatose". The seated show is hard, and while Ghost Iris does their best at delivering an energetic stage show, the electrifying dynamic between them and the crowd just isn't there. Decent overall, but I think everyone here tonight - including Ghost Iris themselves - is looking forward to regular shows coming back later this year.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Desert Dread
  • 2. Former Self
  • 3. Final Tale
  • 4. Coma
  • 5. Paper Tiger
  • 6. Made To Rust
  • 7. Cold Sweat
  • 8. Parallel Passage
  • 9. Coda
  • 10. Cult
  • 11. Power Schism
  • 12. The Rat And The Snake

Photos by: Philip B. Hansen

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