Artist: Galactic Pegasus
Album: Phantom of the Hill
Imagine a dark forest—thick with wet, low fog, a setting ideal for a grim, grisly murder-mystery; the type of place where bad things caused by worse people happen to otherwise individual individuals. It’s a densely packed forest, thick, tangled and labyrinthine, but with enough of a drifting, floating haze to provide a hint of atmosphere.
Now imagine this is the mood imparted by a band named Galactic Pegasus. Seems counterintuitive, right?
But it’s the truth—as the band’s Famined Records debut, Phantom of the Hill is dense with devastating, groovy and progressive heaviness, yet infused with mesmerizing melodies, catchy hooks and ever-so-slightly-ethereal atmospheric moments that makes the band sound like current-year Veil of Maya met with yesteryear’s Volumes and added their own uniquely British-Columbian splash of brutality-blended-with-catchiness into the mix. If you’re on the hunt for something hectic and heavy while being spacious and subtle all in one, it turns out there’s no need to hunt at all—because the Phantom of the Hill is coming for you.
Since their inception, this curiously named quartet have been synonymous with downtuned, groove laden and progressive metalcore that worms its way into the listener’s skull and infects it as insidiously as a virus. Phantom of the Hill, in that respect, is no different. However, on their debut full-length offering, Galactic Pegasus continue the expansion and growing seen on their previous EP, Pariah. Build on a foundation of meaty, thick percussion, tracks like “HourGlass,” or the earth-shaking title track are hefty anthems that combine punchy and explosive percussion with Johnny Ciardullo’s crushing bass tone. Ciardullo’s bass is just muddy enough to make climactic breakdowns like those in “HourGlass” or the introductory number, “JENOVA” absolutely rip, while letting more fluid and atmospheric numbers like “Beauty,” or the introductory segment to “Thanatos” flow smoothly and serenely into the listener’s ears as if his grooves were cast from a stick of mostly-molten butter. Ciardullo’s bass combines beautifully with Galactic Pegasus’s prominent and proficient percussion, providing a brilliant base for guitarists Cooper Lagace and Andrew Baena to shred, groove, riff and chug atop. Baena and Lagace, in many ways, are synonymous with Galactic Pegasus itself—as the duo’s dynamic fretwork practically defines the band’s bold, brutal-yet-beautiful feel—and those skeptical of that would do well to give songs like “Thanatos” or “Beauty” a listen. These songs—“Beauty,” especially, as well as the rebooted “Homecoming” sound as if they could be B-sides from Volumes’ Via—while Baena and Lagace’s more lacerating and intense songwriting on “Bottoms Up” or “Mare Imbrium” sound similar to something one might expect from Veil of Maya after they go on a The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza bender. The result is diverse and dazzling; two guitarists whose work provides a thorough adventure through everything it means to be a progressive metalcore band in 2016.
Where Galactic Pegasus’ grooves and grisly breakdowns have always been noteworthy, they’ve rarely been a band with incredible vocal and lyrical appeal. This isn’t to say they were ever bad when it came to those criteria, but simply that they weren’t the focus. And while, on some songs—like “Homecoming” or the more mesmerizing “The Fault Line”—they still might not be a vocal-centric band, Phantom of the Hill has plentyof examples where frontman Andrew Hockley proves to draw just as much attention as any other member of the band to his vocal and lyrical skills. Aided by guitarist Baena, Galactic Pegasus—that is to say Hockley’s—vocal effort is a tremendous improvement over the band’s previous works. From the beginning of “Bottom’s Up,” throughout “Phantom of the Hill” and during the catchy cries of “Revival,” Hockley’s vocals stretch far outside of his comfort zone to display a sprawling variety of ranges that play perfectly to the mood imparted by the song. The more aggressive and bitter segments of “Bottom’s Up” see his voice thick and syrupy with palpable hatred; while “Beauty” and “Hypothermia” are displays of bouncy, catchy vocal patterning and practiced, stylistically perfect screams. The only downside to Galactic Pegasus resides in cleans that pepper several songs—which can either make or break the song’s mood. “Revival,” for instance, sees clean vocals filling a perfect void—whereas the cleans on “Bottom’s Up,” again, aren’t bad, they just don’t fit quite as well as they could, causing a slight hiccup in an otherwise serene and stellar song.
If you like bouncy, bold metalcore, ethereal drizzles of progressive metal and atmosphere accompanied by moments of skin-splitting, lacerating and lurid aggression, then you should already know about Galactic Pegasus—but if you don’t, Phantom of the Hill is a perfect place to start. Influenced by some of the contemporary greats while still retaining a sound that is uniquely their own, this quartet crush, groove and thall their way to greatness on their debut full-length release. While some more tactful placement of clean vocals and harmonies would propel the band from great to legendary, their latest offering is still a more than proficient display of progressively-inclined heaviness that any fan of bouncy, beautiful brutality should acquaint themselves with.
For Fans Of: Veil of Maya, Volumes, Northlane and Structures
By: Connor Welsh