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The words Hungarian instrumental prog metal, may, quite rightly, scare off some. I’m among that cohort. I’m an old punk and metal fan, and I despise prog, but I’ve been following Debrecen’s Ghost Toast since they signed to Inverse Records.
Inverse are one of my favourite metal labels. They work with bands from all over Europe and release new records almost weekly. I’ve found some of my favourite tunes there in recent years. Not least ‘Eclipse’ from their last album, Shape Without Form. The follow-up is Shape Without Color and they’ve gone even further down the prog rabbit hole on this one. It takes balls of brass to release a 12-minute single to launch your album but, too often, it feels like longer than that.
The band was formed in Debrecen, Hungary in 2008 and they appear to be on a similar trajectory to Liverpool’s Anathema. They blend instrumental styles from heavy and groovy metal to the tight syncopation and drones of prog. They’re still capable of rocking out and laying down head-banging riffs, but there’s just a build-up of fluff in between. There are moments when that indulgent streak becomes overpowering and listening feels like an endurance test. It becomes ambient music for metallers like 65 Days of Static or Tool. Hopefully the rest of the album is tighter.