BURNING GHOSTS explodes from the Los Angeles Underground with an expressionist metal-jazz opus that singes the fabric of a fraying American culture. An ambitious and scathing referendum, this eponymous debut comes at a moment when our civic morality and sense of social justice, our communal values and even our very national identity, find themselves under brutal scrutiny. Holding the mirror close and clear, Burning Ghosts is an uncompromising, incendiary artistic response to ubiquitous injustice. This is music without restraint.
Flash back to the summer of 2015. Rampant reports of police brutality, bigotry, racism, rape culture, gender discrimination, and vast social inequity flooded our newsfeeds. Compelled to channel grave misgivings about the state of our union into a creative act, acclaimed Los Angeles trumpeter-composer Daniel Rosenboom reached out to some of the West Coast’s most adventurous musicians: guitarist Jake Vossler, bassist Richard Giddens, and drummer Aaron McLendon. Together, the quartet forged an immediately singular sound, seamlessly integrating diverse musical aesthetics, and shaped a fiercely provocative concept album addressing their mutual feelings of frustration and despair, inflamed by this rising tide of injustice.
Burning Ghosts is a vital, writhing grand gesture, designed to inspire brutally honest discourse on the madness of modern times. Utilizing an organic balance of structure and spontaneity, the band crafts an expansive narrative that arcs like a two-act opera. These musicians demonstrate unparalleled versatility in harnessing a vivid sonic palate for disseminating their message. At times, the instruments groan and shriek like a worn army of mechanical slaves, and at others the band swings like its aiming squarely for the chin of the ruling class. Moments invoking experimental metal, free jazz, post-rock, and even the classical avant-garde percolate impressionistically like oppressed urban voices sharing common street corners.
Set as ten dynamic vignettes, Burning Ghosts challenges its audience at every turn. Launching with the rousing one-two punch of “Anthem” and “Defiance,” the band wastes no time diving into the fire. From the outright protest march of “Dissent” to the 13 tolling bells and wailing trumpet cry of “Requiem,” social injustice underlies the motivation of this entire opus as the band pulls you in and out of chaos. And after the blazing, emotional triumph of “Rise”, “Mercy” offers a clear reminder that, behind all the steaming bullshit, compassion remains the core of our shared humanity. In an epic grand finale, the album culminates with a sonic collage on a symphonic scale: “Manifesto” pulls the listener through bickering, absurd dysfunction into a churning transformation that ultimately rages in the spirit of smoldering revolution.
With this bold debut, Burning Ghosts announces its presence and ethos with unabashed intensity. Resounding through the rogue radios of an ever-expanding American diaspora, this is the sound of upheaval in the face of discrimination, senseless violence and stratospheric greed. They force the questions: “Who do we want to be as a civilization?” and “Can we defeat our common enemies by virtue alone?” Whatever a listener’s answers may be, this statement from a brilliant new band commands reflection, attention and sheer awe.