Sacramento power trio takes alternative metal's structural bedrock and douses it in shoegaze's fuzz-soaked layers.

Post-alternative trio Ghost Color is back with their second EP, American Book of the Dead. It's a stormy trip through love and loss that keeps a wide perspective. Taking on those challenges without uncontrolled outbursts but rather with a focus on the big picture as their allusion to The Tibetan Book of the Dead suggests. The group's sound definitely brings to mind fellow Sacramentans, Deftones but without the jungle cat spastics of Chino Moreno. Ghost Color stay in the midrange, expressing deep emotion with a wise temperance.

'In Other Words' comes barreling in rocking and swaying like an overdriven sea shanty. The toms roll and tumble as the guitars evolve into glistening flourishes. Winstead's vocals sail in a sustained bellow over a six-foot deep foundation of distortion. The bridge of woozy, fluid chords robs you of your footing making the return of the chorus feel particularly satisfying. The build brings to mind some of the best tracks from A Perfect Circle's murky debut album. 'Endeavour' settles into a steady plod. Harty's bass bounces around like the devil tap dancing on your grave. As Winstead cries out for a “bridge between our hearts”, Davis' rising, tubular guitars in the chorus drive the song home.

'Say Asleep' takes you into increasingly swampy waters. Harty's bass again extending the depth of Davis' dense chords making for some deliciously complex phrasings. The bass goes for a nice little run at the end hinting to Ghost Color's less obvious but nevertheless present jazz influence. The closer to the album is steeped in cathedral textures to highlight times of loss and bereavement. 'Grieves' focusses around the hook “So I grieve again, feeling nothing normal now” while guitars squeal in the background like grief-stricken mourners.

American Book of the Dead is a solid effort from this tight trio. All four songs are well-crafted heavy alternative pieces. It will be great to hear what comes of the group when they're able to stretch themselves out on a full-length release. With a short 4 song EP, the tendency can be to cram all of your tricks into every song. American Book of the Dead serves as a great teaser for a Ghost Color LP.

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