Promethium: A Radioactive Metal whose name is derived from Prometheus, the Titan of Greek mythology who stole fire from Mount Olympus and brought it down to humans. It symbolises “both the daring and the possible misuse of mankind’s intellect”.
Promethium – Bleeding The Ghost
Release Date: 15 September 2023
Words: Sophie James
Today sees the release of the fifth album from this Lancastrian Quintet, who, after having selected the name, have risen to the challenges and expectations that accompany such usage.
Enduring quite the gestation due to the pandemic and significant personnel upheaval, their reappearance sees the core duo of Dan Lovett-Horn (Guitar) and ‘Gentle’ Ben MacFarlane (Bass) joined by James Candin on point, Andy Haworth (Guitar) and Stu Gordon (Drums).
Things commence with Goat, a relatively gentle instrumental which gradually builds, ramping up the expectation as it sets the scene for when everything kicks in. That’s the Live Intro Tape sorted, then.
The titular lead single, Bleeding The Ghost, positively flies out of the traps in foot on the monitor, glorious Boys Own type fashion. The riff instantly grabs you as the band commences their gallop before switching to equally catchy harmonies that lay beneath the chorus vocal. The solo slots in seamlessly and never outstays its welcome. As we say back home, Tidy.
Priest commences in a similar fashion. The introductory riffs vacate, leaving Ben’s bounding bass to lead the rhythm section as the modest accompaniment to the flowing cadenced vocal. Kicking back in on a pre- bridge, the number continues its ascendancy.
It’s a while arriving, but the line “Seek the one who calls himself the Priest,” is well worth the wait and worthy of the Metal God himself. The post-chorus rhythm has a distinct Megadeth feel. Overall, it is just so damn catchy, it is surely destined to become a live favourite.
Who ever imagined that one day, a hard-drinking (allegedly), hard rocking band would ever pen a tribute to an amateur sleuth or, as is being controversially discussed in some quarters, serial slayer Jessica Fletcher?
Yes, you read that correctly. Murder She Wrote makes for an interesting, if tongue firmly in cheek, homage to the classic series. Opening with another classic head-nodding riff, I defy anyone not to sing along with that tri-worded title through a beaming smile.
While the opening of Healing Your Sin builds to a frantic tempo, in parallel, it establishes a hammering but harmonious riff whose melody runs throughout. So much to enjoy on this track, and possibly the most anthemic chorus on the album.
The contrast in the call and response of the main vocals and the gruffer backing atop some pretty intricate parts combine to build the malevolent, violent feel of Knives Out. Some Blackmoresque/Middle Eastern elements colour the solo as it plays out above the crunching rhythm.
The most topically titled Manhattan draws parallels with the activities of the American Prometheus as the narrator attempts to dissect the anguishes of his own doomed relationship. It builds gently in an almost power ballad style as James’ commentary is given space atop the guitars melodic ambience before the impactful self-questioning chorus. Those ‘nomadic’ elements again tint the solo as it segues into Metallica-type rhythms as the crescendo draws near.
Gunshot drumbeats punctuate the guitars as they open the fast and furious Catfish. As its name suggests, it’s a cautionary tale about an increasingly modern phenomenon.
“It’s a master of disguises, a chameleon of the deep, a predator always hiding.” It would be criminal if the gang vocals of the subsequent chorus are not yelled back by a live audience.
Snakebite has a more contemporary feel while continuing the lyrical themes of its predecessor. Rolling bass, tailed by staccato drums and chopping guitar before one mimics the doppler effect of a passing siren. When James, now adopting a deeper tone, comes in, his delivery, almost percussive in nature, flows with metronomic regularity.
Piano and strings pre-empt the percussive tolling riff of atmospheric closer My Fate as one already gets the sense that what has passed has sought to prime what is to follow. With its bridge of “Inside of me, there is something living. I’ll never call it a soul,” one wonders at what manner of darkness lies within.
The rhythms palpitate as a heartbeat, and the guitars signify the cutting despair as the strings circle and sweep like clouds of turmoil. The chorus of “I am worth nothing, I want to feel something, I’m tired of running away from my fate” summarises the anguish of the commentator and may also act as a pressure release for listeners and concertgoers alike.
The closing cello notes draw an opaque curtain across the album’s musical zenith, leaving the listener with a sense of melancholy, respite from the onslaught but a compelling urge to press REPEAT as one was not able to completely absorb the almost symphonic barrage.
Until this release, I must admit that I was unfamiliar with Promethium and their works. With such a significant changeover of personnel, it was to be expected that it would also come with a change in direction or a shift in focus.
The band speak of more focus on melody, and it can be said that they have attained that goal.
This release goes some distance to span the chasm between classic UK/US rock and the grander, more symphonic arrangements of European outfits but with an accessibility that should appeal to a much wider audience.
There are so many textures at play here which ebb and flow, genteel one minute, hammering the next, but always maintain that more recent emphasis on melody. The listening experience is the musical equivalent of piggybacking on an eagle as it soars high above the clouds and dives down skimming lakes or treetops.
Considering this is singer James’ first foray into the world of Metal, he acquits himself admirably on both lyrical and vocal duties. His voice possesses a hoarse edge, which supplements the incisive guitars and enhances the listening experience.
Judging by the riffs, licks, solos and harmonies devised, the guitar pairing of Dan and Andy is so hugely complementary one would be forgiven for assuming that they have played together for years. One now imagines how they will bounce off each other in a live setting.
A consummate piece of work showcasing meticulously arranged, well-crafted compositions that are dynamically performed and crisply captured. This makes for an immersive and hugely enjoyable experience.
Judging by the standard of Bleeding The Ghost, this lineup possesses a huge amount of potential. Let’s hope they go on to build upon it.
Bleeding The Ghost
- Bleeding The Ghost
- Murder She Wrote
- Healing Your Sin
- Knives Out
- My Fate