A chill goes down the spine of the world on Ghost of the Russian Empire’s full-length debut, The Mammoth. The Austin, Texas four-piece follow up 2006’s With Fiercest Demolition EP with a haunting, driving combination. Whether airy or alt-road, The Mammoth delivers.
Ghost of the Russian Empire open with their strongest track, “A Decade Without a Death”; it lays down the spooky yet pressing alt-country vibe. “Hammer Hands” is more restrained and atmospheric, before growing expansive near its end. Things get higher on the following “Mandroid” and “Dark”, the former a scatter-shot attack, the latter a growing waft.
After that journey into the air up there, Ghost of the Russian Empire get down-to-earth with jangly haunt-drive of the alt-road “The Winter Soldier”, while “Dresden” delivers a more straight-up beat. Things are at their darkest with the bass-heavy “Bleeding Machines”, but go world-weary and laid-back on the following “The Black Mark”. But the best of these middle tracks is Mammoth’s speedier, even catchy title track, which gets bigger as it goes along.
Near the end of the record, Ghost of the Russian Empire delve into the post-rock pool. “In the Borough of a Beast” marries a post-rock background to some strong piano. The penultimate “The White Sea” goes big and grand in a post-rock expansive wave, while finisher “The Butcher” is a haunting, washing epilogue.
Sometimes on Mammoth, Ghost of the Russian Empire can go on a bit. And their post-rock excursions aren’t quite as strong as their more driving pieces. But listening to the record can give you the shivers, and it ain’t from the Russian cold…