Ghost Toast – Shape Without Form Review

The angry metal times, they are a-changin’. Suddenly equality matters in the promo pit, and now instead of casting my gaze to particularly promising offerings on the farther end of the horizon I must actually put effort (ugh) into monitoring release dates and claim my selections with a sense of poise and rationality punctuality (UGH.) Now that the world’s upside down and I’m forced to move with a sense of purpose, I can’t just scour the bin for inbound blackened greatness and hoard it all to myself; I must get in line on time, like everyone else, and hope for the best, and that my friends is how I wound up with Ghost Toast. I’m sure you butt trumpets are probably wondering “What’s a Ghost Toast?” I’m so glad you asked, yo!

Seriously, I am glad that you asked:1 it’s nice to have some actual dialogue after my solitary confinement to Shape Without Form. That’s right, tubthumpers: Ghost Toast are an instrumental band! There’s been a lot of that lately, and I’m not really sure why, but I was bound to deal with something of the sort sooner or later, and now here we are, Ghost Toastin’ it up. The air is brighter here than anything suggested by the bleak, monochromatic artwork, yet never are things as downright whimsical as the Hungarian act’s utterly rigoddamdiculous moniker might suggest. Similarly, the technical prowess on display is undeniable without being noodly, while in the same breath Shape Without Form chugs and chugs and chugs yet never djents. There are perplexities and subtleties to this album which simultaneously compliment and contradict each other, comprising a 46-minute adventure that left me with but one question: seriously, yo, what the fuck is a Ghost Toast?

If nothing else, I know what a Ghost Toast sounds like. That’s right, you wet-sprocketed toads: name drops. I can’t say that Ghost Toast shamelessly emulate Scale the Summit, but I also can’t not say that there are a lot of similarities between Death Breakfast and Go Hiking. The two employ similarly structured songwriting and share several soaring sets of scales, particularly during Haunted Waffle‘s most energetic passages. The lead guitar tone of Grave Biscuit also strongly recalls that of Climb a Mountain, its warm vibrancy lending itself naturally and effectively to the narrative role left vacant in the absence of vocal evocation. Also, I’m pretty sure that Deceased Pop-Tart might have stolen all of their lyrics from Get as High as You Can, but that’s neither here nor there. The big takeaway is that if you enjoy the adventurous, proggy stylings of Be at the Opposite of the Bottom, you’ll likely find much to love about Slain Toaster Streudel. A healthy dose of cello and synths gives Shape Without Form some shimmering distinction of its own, yet still I wonder: WHAT THE FUCK IS A GHOST TOAST???

Whatever it is, it makes for a decent—if not wildly memorable—instrumental outing. The songwriting here is pretty slick, with each song being sensibly balanced with a measured ebb to every flow; for every wax, a wane. If things are chugging along aggressively, just wait: a gentle zephyr of clean guitars and airy cello is just around the corner. This keen sense of momentum allows tracks like “Frankenstein’s” and “Y13” to do their thing with grace and aplomb, and yet there’s a distinct absence of standout riffs or passages throughout the album which ultimately renders this superb sense of motion somewhat wasted. I enjoyed every track just fine, but here in the aftermath I can’t recall a single second of a single song to describe to you butthole surfers, and that is significantly less than fine, yo. Why bother dedicating so much thought and energy towards giving the songs legs if you’re not gonna let them really run free? Also, on the offhand chance that now is when I finally get my answer: WHATTHEFUCKFUCKINGFUCKISAFUCKINGGHOSTTOAST???

I’m a big advocate of the instrumental album, yet all too often I seem to find merely inoffensive background tunes in our hallowed/hated promo pit, competently delivered performances that stand out against absolutely nothing and leave no traces of themselves to meander amidst my musical memories.2 Shape Without Form is, unfortunately, no exception. If you meat puppets are looking for some shimmery, guitar-driven nonsense with a side of keys n’ cello, hold the vox, then, by all means, dig in. If you prefer your instrumental bidness to be a bit more distinguished and impressive, you may be better served scaling summits and such to find the right album for you—this most likely isn’t it. Of course, before we part ways I must ask one final question: can you believe it’s not butter???


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Inverse Records
Websites: ghosttoastband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/ghosttoastband
Releases Worldwide: March 3rd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I say you asked, anyway. If anyone asks if you asked, you asked.
  2. I’m sure that there’s a toasty ghost pun in here somewhere, but this thing’s already late as it is and if I try to think of the perfect pun it’ll never get done. It would have been nice to get some sort of Holdendad level pun action going, though. There’s just sooo much potential with that band name, and just as many questions. Is it what ghosts eat? Is it what befalls toast with unfinished business? Is it drugs? If so, what kind of drugs? Can I have them? Will they give me equally glorious band naming abilities or will they turn me into an unhinged disaster like Huck? How is Huck these days, anyway? Sooo many questions, yo.
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