Ghost Medicine – Discontinuance

Discontinuance is the debut album of a project put together by Georgia based guitarist Jared Leach, a name I had not come across before. Jared began playing guitar at the age of seven and has performed for the Kennesaw State University Jazz Ensemble, and as part of the musical theatre performance of Cabaret in 2012. One gleans from this that Jared can delve into many different styles of playing, and this album underlines that point, as far as intricate acoustic work and full-on electric heavyosity are concerned.

Call and response male/female vocals and a charging melody introduced on acoustic guitar and then led off at speed down the highway on the back of some fine intricate riffing on opener Crooked House tell me that this is a “normal” album of rocktastic songs in longform, and a nice change from the spiky affairs I usually get to grips with in the name of music critique. Slower paced interplay twixt acoustic and electric follows on Shiver, which has the feel of The Sundays by virtue of its unhurried and vaguely pastoral air and Sarah Hoefer’s Harriet Wheeler intonations.

Those first two tracks show the two sides of the band, various combinations of which follow on the rest of the album. The arrangements are just complicated enough to qualify Discontinuance for shelter beneath the prog umbrella in case of an impending shower of pigeonholing. Not that it matters, as this an enjoyable romp through recognisable influences with enough twists to satisfy the progger as well as being straight enough for the rocker. The latter will probably pick up on an inkling of All About Eve at their most trad.

Colin Edwins’ trusty bass and Scott Prian’s drums are as propulsive and on the money as you’d expect, and the intro to Departure ventures into speed prog-metal territory with its pounding double kick drum. On the looser sections of Departure, the rhythm section make some good atmospherics over which lead guitarist Leach lets loose riff shards and short note bursts at frantic speed. There are parts of Desert Spring that put me in mind of Porcupine Tree at their most metal with the added spice of Jared’s fiery lead lines. It’s nothing new, but not everything has to push the envelope, and if I had enough hair it would be given a mighty shaking to this cricked neck inducing number.

Mr Leach does like to show how fast he can play, and Broken Corridor is the prime example of this. Thankfully though his playing always pulls up short of meaningless shredding, although I’ll admit that for me this style does get a bit wearing after a while.

Much syncopation and breathless picking permeate the titular closing mini-epic, which goes through some nice changes in pace and some stellar work on the acoustic guitar. Albeit a tad predictable in places, this is a fine album for those who like their guitar-based music fast and loud, with more than a dash of prog atmospherics.

01. Crooked House (9:43)
02. Shiver (5:54)
03. Departure (6:23)
04. Desert Spring (8:54)
05. Beautiful World (4:00)
06. Broken Corridor (5:01)
07. Discontinuance (11:13)

Total time – 51:00

Jared Leach – Guitars & Vocals
Scott Prian – Drums & Programming
Sarah Hoefer – Vocals
Colin Edwin – Bass

Record Label: Uranium Club
Catalogue#: UC00921
Year of Release: 2016

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