Promethium: ‘Bleeding The Ghost’

September Album of the Month

Promethium - Bleeding the Ghost
(5/5)

Honest rock. The sound of a band of brothers playing music in a room together. Playing the music they want to play. Enjoying it. And releasing it without any filters, window dressing or hype. Welcome to the world of Promethium.

As we move into Autumn, the sheer number of new albums scheduled for release is daunting – especially when I only review one choice album a month. There are many strong and credible releases on the way and I encourage you to have a browse at the full shop window – both with new favourites and to take a chance on something you’re not so familiar with. But in making the call for September, from first listen I was drawn by the directness and musical honesty of what I heard from Promethium.

As the rising rock scene matures – it may no longer be a rising scene as many of the bands have been around for a long time – one can see from the outside the growing influence of the marketing machine. Bands paying bigger bucks for big production videos, image becoming more important, musicians becoming media presenters, a growing focus on being more visible on live streams and podcasts. All these things are fine but I sometimes fear the chase for affirmation through numbers, likes and shares can sometimes take the focus away from the music. Brand popularity or ‘relatability’ does not always mean the music is special. What we have from Promethium is a counterpoint, like a wet flannel slapping us across the face and waking us up. This band is all about their music: Not the cool kids in town, their music is made to be heard. Their posts are all about their songs, they thank people for supporting their songs and they just want people to hear what they’ve recorded – and give it a chance to be heard. It’s about the music standing tall on its own.

Compared to some other albums that have had the marketing polish, this album strips everything back to basics. You feel you’re in the practice room with the band as they’re working their songs. The album is a thoroughbred DIY exercise in the band making the music they love on their terms. The outcome feels closer to the street-savvy working-class roots that British rock and metal is built on. Not trying to be cool, no glossy sheen – instead music from the heart, alive at times in its imperfection and gritty in its directness. Honest rock from the heart – the way rock and metal should be.

The album opens with a nice instrumental overture, a scene-setter for the album and quite possibly the intro music for a live show. From this, we go straight into the assuring strains of NWOBHM with ‘Bleeding The Ghost.’ Well-paced and well-structured, the song has good symmetry and the opening guitar solo opens up the track, giving a sense of freedom and lending greater bandwidth. We played this track on the Monday Rock Show some weeks ago and to an immediate, positive listener reaction.

For ‘Priest’ the vocals very much frame the character of the song. A good earthy rasp as the words marry well with the music. The song has a good groove that pulls you in on first listen.

Three tracks in, and as a blues rocker I’m reminded how important metal is to the genre more broadly, and particularly the British metal tradition. From this album, Promethium clearly reference their heroes from the 80s, but the album feels contemporary. It has an edge and a fight that somehow resonates with the world today.

Onto ‘Murder She Wrote’ – here the drums are really solid and frame the music well. A dark and brooding song with usual the gothic-metal doom narrative – but you don’t have to be an ardent metal-head to enjoy it. 

‘Healing Your Sin’ delivers a nice 70s guitar vibe – and vocal harmonies that wouldn’t be out of place on Queen 2. Dark, heavy but melodic and accessible. Once again, the guitar solo elevates – but naturally fits – the song.

‘Knives Out’ is my pick of the album – a song with urgency, a good vocal performance and interesting arrangement throughout. A complete song. 

The opening of ‘Manhattan’ provided a more stripped back contrast to the earlier songs, which reminded me of the band’s cracking acoustic album of 2019. The vocal shines with lots of expression as the song builds well as a power-anthem. 

Throughout the album, the rhythm and grooves of guitars combine well and work intuitively with the drums. Promethium are a tight unit and the music is easily accessible, even if the metal world is not your thing.

‘Catfish’ has a sharp edge and will probably become a live favourite, with its call-and-response choruses – and ‘Snakebite’ is a proper old-school rocker. Here, everyone’s on their game.

And there’s still room for a big finale. ‘My Fate’ ushers in orchestral arrangements and big multi-layered guitar sections. There’s a full vocal palette from atmospheric to full-throttle. A dramatic opus, the band here employ all the toys they have in the box to close the album with style and purpose.

This album probably won’t be in the charts and it probably won’t get the noise and attention of other new releases. But in its own right – and on musical terms – it has value. This is the sound of a band that love what they do and do it well. With all the chatter in the scene of bands getting to the top of the mountain, Promethium remind us that everyone matters and every band deserves a moment to be noticed. In music terms, it’s not about getting to the top of the mountain – in truth, its about not leaving anyone behind.

For band information, band webstore and album pre-orders, visit https://www.promethiumband.com

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