Ghost Ship Octavius - Delirium

Ghost Ship Octavius Delirium cover
Ghost Ship Octavius
Mighty Music
Ghost Ship Octavius arrived on the scene a few years ago, without making much of a noise, as their independently released eponymous and quite brilliant debut album, was conveniently lost and buried in the sea of mediocre releases that the well-established labels seem to flood the scene with, being too straightforward for the prog nerds and too eclectic for the troo crowd. Formed half a dozen years ago, the band consist of Matt Wicklund (God Forbid, Himsa, Warrel Dane) and Van Williams (Nevermore, Ashes Of Ares) on guitars and drums respectively. Vocalist Adōn Fanion (who’s also done live vocal work with Ashes Of Ares) remains on vocals and rhythm guitars while, former Nevermore & Dane collaborator Dagna Silesia is presumably still in the band for “live” performances.

“Delirium”, the band’s sophomore album, was released independently in September 2018, but it was recently picked up by the Danish label, Mighty Music, which released the album officially in February 2019.
The band’s kaleidoscopic influences come from bands as diverse as Nevermore, Symphony X, Darkology, Vanden Plas, Control Denied & Communic, Devin Townsend, and even Ayereon. In their world almost everything can happen and their ability to be intense, technical, heavy, and melodic at the same time, without sounding “confused”, has only more been refined after their debut. The production is full, heavy and powerful on the whole…
“Turned to Ice” is lyrical, adventurous, but also massive sounding, with daring vocals over interestingly heavy instrumentation. It’s heavy and yet melodic, but without the guitars “drowning” the sound and with a much more melodic approach on the vocals… a really nice way to open the album.
“Ocean of Memories” is a lot more classic sounding, less heavy, but just as lyrical, with a ton of vocal harmonies that make it sound like the boiled down gist, of some nice old Dream Theater tune, without the ton of orchestration they tended to embellish everything with after the first few albums, just for the sake of it.
“Saturnine” begins in quite a venomous way to graduate into a melodic chorus, the transition actually occurring during the chorus in a rather inspired way… it goes back and forth between sounding infernal and ethereal in a matter of seconds, which keeps you on your toes trying to figure out, what’s gonna happen next. A beautiful solo, some heavy as hell verse, a transitory verse? Your guess is as good as mine, or anyone’s. Just brilliant.
“Delirium” begins with a smooth as hell intro, making me think, “so much for that title”… big mistake; it soon goes into a convulsed circle of riffing that sounds very much like Nevermore, only to once again diversify itself for the chorus. The solo is like some fusiony thing that somehow just opened the wrong studio door, but was allowed to stay and even made good friends with the other parts that were already in the studio. Go figure…
“Ghost in the Well” is probably one of the more straightforward songs, at least up to a point, since it feels like maybe a… Savatage song that was doing its own thing, before it was hijacked by 10 different bands that progged up the funk out of it. And I mean that in a “good” way.
“Chosen” begins with some crazy instrumental interplay, before smooth vocals take over a minimal motif. The riffage returns to interlay nicely with the vocals, in the most inspired way (with my only qualm being that the vocals don’t get as much separated, as they could in the mix – thus making the whole thing sound a little odd at times). Fantastic solo. What’s not to like…other than the level of the vocals in the mix?
“Edge of Time” feels like a relaxed jam, before some guitar come along to take the lead. When they die down, it becomes pretty hippy, before it all comes together. Vocals panned as wide as possible over guitars… it sound like someone jammed something that could have sounded like Nevermore, if it was played really heavy, but did it as smoothly as they could… ehm trippy alt-never-will-be… then, with some cello and wild soloing tucked in the end, just for good measure, because… why not?!
“Far Below” fuses neoclassicism with heaviness in an inimitable fashion, cautious enough to not rip the opening lines of one of Beethoven’s most recognizable pieces, but actually deciding to tear the next page from the score, and roll a big blunt one with it and toke it down, resulting in a dizzying and daring take on a classic piece that bears some semblance to its source, but is so smartly recycled that it almost becomes indistinguishable from the band’s own melodies.
There’s nothing too complicated during the first couple of minutes of “The Maze”, but then it sort of decides to branch out a fair bit, never really becoming all that confusing to the listener… amusing I’d say with its inventive phrases and unpredictable lapses.
“Bleeding on the Horns” begins with some almost tribal elements and epic guitars in an unlikely union. It then goes into a lyrical and measured place, part Savatage, part Conception from which it only really escapes on occasion for some impressive soloing or whatever else the band has in mind. Strange and beautiful to quote some long forgotten American band that probably took things too far, too soon, for their own good.
“Burn This Ladder” is a smooth prog piece that initially feels as it could belong to Fates Warning, making exemplary use of atmosphere, but then drifts on its own whims to waters uncharted.
While “Delirium” feels more evolved than its predecessor, it probably trails a little behind as well. It’s overall better, but doesn’t quite have the same effect as the debut did, because the returning listener would already have an idea of what to expect that might or might not be matched and even surpassed.
All in all, one of the better bands to come out in the last decade in the darker spectrum of prog power metal along with Darkology, Eumeria and a few more; all criminally underrated and all an order of magnitude better in every way conceivable than most of what passes for “metal” or even “extreme music” these days. Do yourself a favor and pick up this album, before picking the latest “mASS(produced)terpiece” from such and such “legendary” band and “major” label. And to paraphrase, Moahni Moahna’s brilliant “Radio’s to Blame”, rock journalists are to blame…