Outre - Ghost Chants - 012015 has been the Year of Black Metal, hasn’t it? Coincidentally, it’s also the Year of the Goat in the Chinese Zodiac, so it would make sense. With impressive releases by Imperial Triumphant, Akhlys, Mourning Mist, and Perdition Temple, you would think there would be little room for Poland’s Outre. Once the brainchild of guitarist Damian Igielski, performing all instruments by himself with vocals handled by Andrzej Nowak, they released one EP before becoming a full-fledged band with their split with fellow Polish blackened noisemakers Thaw. Now with Nowak out, they have delivered Ghost Chants, their debut full-length. And with that, you’ll need to make some more room, because this is some top-quality music.

Just as The Order of Apollyon lifted heavily from Poland on their newest (right down to the brickwalled production), Outre got their mime on and drew their inspirations from the French, namely the atmospherics of Deathspell Omega with a little bit of the progressive leanings of German newcomers Vehemenz. “Chant 3 – The Fall” provides a nice example of this, with Igielski and fellow guitarist Mateusz Jamróz providing angular-yet-shimmering riffs and melodies over Maciej Pelczar’s frantic blasts. Even Marcin Radecki’s bass can be heard coiling and slithering between the drums and the guitars, popping out whenever necessary. But those vocals… dude.

He may only be a hired hand, but Stawrogin (Crawling DeathOdraza) truly made this his playground. He has this blend of the weirdness of Mayhem‘s Attila Csihar, the snarl of Nergal (Behemoth), and the robotic cleans of Denis “Snake” Bélanger (Voivod). His performance on Ghost Chants brings the songs to a higher plane entirely. “Chant 5 – Equilibrium” is quite a dirge, made all the more special with a really cool multi-layered choir at the end. “Chant 4 – Lament” marches with atonal intent and some venomous growling and screaming. “Chant 2 – Shadow” is probably the closest this comes to being straight-forward black metal, but even then, Stawrogin’s growls and singing teleports this to the realms of the bleak and the bizarre. But the ultimate statement of intent occurs during the album’s capstone, “Chant 7 – Arrival.” It starts very ominously yet somewhat subdued, but from 2:35 on forward the song just builds and builds and builds, with the music and Stawrogin’s vocals creating a slow burn that only intensifies and strengthens until its explosive finale. This song will stick in your head long after it ends.

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If there is a complaint to be had, it’s with the production. Recorded at No Solace and Impressive Art Studios by M. (Mgła), the sound could be a little more dynamic. The guitars sometimes bleed into one another, causing the bass to disappear. This is definitely a nitpick though, as the actual music here is quite intriguing and memorable, and I’m truly hoping that Stawrogin goes from “session vocalist” to “full-time member,” as his screams and singing help make Ghost Chants the memorable jaunt that it is.

After a rather lackluster beginning, 2015 is really coming into its own with quality releases just four months into the year. Outre dropped an impressive debut here in Ghost Chants. If you want your blackened meal with a dash of progressive seasonings, this is it. And if you’ve already spent a ton of money just these past two months alone on quality releases, well, I apologize to you and your wallet.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 319 kbps mp3
Labels: Godz ov War Productions | Third Eye Temple | Essential Purification Records
Websites: OutreOfficial | Facebook.com/Outre
Release Date: Out Worldwide 04.14.2015