To me, there’s no music genre entirely without merit. Hardcore? Give me some Counterparts, please. Hip hop? Aesop Rock is my jam. Emo? I’ll rock out to Taking Back Sunday like it’s 2005 and I need something playing in the background while I apply eyeliner for my Myspace profile pic. Djent? Now that’s a tricky one. In recent years the genre has largely taken metalcore’s place as the go-to whipping boy for online metalheads, and not without good reason. For someone who was there back in 2011 for the six months when the genre was actually cool, the torrent of weedlin’ and palm-muted chugs the style has shat out since has, frankly, all started to sound the fucking same. I don’t care what happened After the Burial or what’s behind the Veil of Maya. The perfect djent song has already been written — it’s called “Letter Experiment,” and Periphery wrote it for their debut album back in 2010. If every djent song aspired to be “Letter Experiment,” I might have a higher opinion of the genre. As it is, we’re stuck with syncopation ad nauseam and a complete lack of anything resembling interesting songwriting.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s review. Formed in 2015, Ghost Iris released debut Anecdotes of Science and Soul that same year before becoming — according to the quartet’s promo blurb — “the most streamed Danish metal act of 2016.” Blind World is the band’s “complex and funk-inspired” sophomore release. Does it djent? Oh, it djents. It djents from the obligatory fade-in of “Gods of Neglect” right to the final chugs before the ambient outro of “Detached.” Anyone who’s paid any attention to the genre in the past five years knows exactly what to expect here: spindly melodies, a mix of harsh and clean vocals, and a cleanly picked interlude with voice-overs about cosmic insignificance (see the title track). And of course, those repetitive staccato rhythms, blended with some diddly licks to add a little pizzazz to things.
Is World a repetitive 37 minutes? Absolutely. After third track “The Flower of Life,” you’ve pretty much heard everything this album has to offer, and there’s still seven more songs to go. By record’s end, the aforementioned diddlin’ and chuggin’ becomes all too similar, not to mention the recycled clean vocal lines in late-album tracks like “After the Sun Sets.” Likewise, the spotless production, while fitting the record’s mechanical and modern feel, is loud enough that my ears start to tune things out early — though repeat listens convinced me I’m not missing much anyway.
Still, it’s not all bad. Early highlight “Save Yourself” bursts right in with a soaring, reach-for-the-sky bout of clean vocals which remind me of the better moments off Periphery’s second album.1 In fact, vocalist Jesper Vicencio does a decent job in general considering he performs both the clean and harsh vocals — even if his rasps sound core-ish and remind me of Aphyxion, of all things.2 There are also a few twists in the second half that prevent things from getting totally stale, including the gleaming sustained notes of “Time Will Tell,” the soft clean chords interspersed with the chugging of “The Silhouette,” and the charging riffs of aforementioned “Sun Sets.” Some clean picking is occasionally layered in the mix as well, which makes things feel busy and a bit more interesting.
Yet in whole, World is merely a refined djent album that falls victim to all the genre’s common pitfalls. The rhythms, riffs, and tracks are numbingly repetitive, and the songs never feel like they climax or go anywhere. This isn’t a bad album or even a particularly disappointing one, it’s just one of those records that bob along with a pleasant and slick polish yet fails to produce anything particularly notable or original. Hardcore djentlemen may find more to like with Ghost Iris — for me, I’ll stick with my eyeliner and Taking Back Sunday, thank you very much.