DECEMBER 5th 2015
GHOST SHIP OCTAVIUS

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

PHOTO GALLERY: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/ghost-ship-octavius/

There was no problem walking in and getting a last minute ticket for the show at The Venue, though I was somewhat surprised.  True, advertising fell rather short of reaching anyone outside already confirmed fans on Facebook, and Ghost Ship Octavius is a relatively new act on their freshman North American tour, but I still would have expected a slightly fatter crowd than what awaited this Saturday night.

I was lucky enough to come in just after the start of opener OmnisighT’s set. I had heard of them but didn’t know much about the band members or the music. Sometimes it is better to run in with no info and no expectations: this was one of those nights. I have never been more impressed with a band that I had zero knowledge about. What started out as a collaboration between two people that see music as a calling, vocalist and guitarist Raj Krishna and session drummer Chris Warunki, has become a masterful phenomenon. They rounded out their group with bassist and support vocalist Dave Shannon and guitarist Blake Rurik and released their first album, “Path”, in July 2012 and since self-produced and self-released “Wave Particle” in November 2013.  These guys play like they’ve been playing together since birth and clearly love what they do at a cellular level.

Krishna and Rurik were absolutely unreal, ripping through mind-blowing riffs and literally challenging all known notions of time and space with their fingers.  After one epic run, I had to take a breather just watching them go. I think that was the song Krishna referred to as the carpel tunnel maker.  Shannon was the perfect compliment letting the band do its thing while he quietly went about rounding out the set with perfectly timed and hard hitting lines. Drummer Warunki was tight on every second and the group actually made magic happen on stage. Think the speed of Motorhead, the rhythmic precision of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the genius of Jimi Hendrix rolled into one. The songs were hard rock, peppered with metal and prog rock all at their finest. Although the vocals were good, there was nothing that Krishna could do with the mic that could distract you from what was going on with his hands. Unreal boys: I’m a believer and dare anyone to tell me OmnisighT isn’t a musical deity.

Next up were headliners Ghost Ship Octavius. While they only got going in 2014 with the skeleton of a band, guitarist Matt Wicklund (also of God Forbid and Himsa) and drummer Van Williams (also of Nevermore, Ashes of Acres and Pure Sweet Hell) found themselves a singer/guitarist in Adon Fanion.  As they made their way into the studio they asked for some bass help from Dagna Silesia (of The People Now) and ended up bringing her on tour for the live sets. They also added Parker Lundgren of Queensryche to sprinkle a little rhythmic spice all over their live performance. Although each member brings with them the experience of their past and a smidge of whatever bands they were/are a part of, Ghost Ship Octavius does have a version of their own sound.

Very much a melodic hardcore ensemble, much of GSO’s set ran a similar tempo and was overall very instrumentally focused. Barely legal frontman Fanion had a bit of a tough time with the mic, getting lots of feedback and perhaps just not entirely accustomed to using one on the road as of yet. The band played well together and sounded as if they had been at it for a period of time. Being a rhythmic power-type metal band, there was lots of intricate guitaring, some great double kick and heavy drumlines, and although Fanion delivered a performance wise beyond his years, it was a very standard sound for the genre.

Having said all that, it is abundantly clear that the talent for composure is heavy when all the layers to each song are considered both on their own and as a whole. On several songs I would notice drumming crescendos that really built up and accented the drama of the tune; this is not something I would typically pick up on so this is clearly a tactic used by the band to tell the story. Much like other bands in their category, there was a plethora of guitar showcasing, with quick neck-travelling arpeggios and speed fingering.  Although at times three guitars seemed to be a little over-the-top, they all played well off each other, especially given that many of the album songs were done (yes in layers) on an individual instrument basis.

Overall the performance was good and there is no lack of talent in this group. I imagine as he gets older Fanion will develop into his own even more so than he has already. There are no signs that Ghost Ship Octavius will be a fleeting one-off from guys that have a multitude of other projects on the go, so I imagine their sophomore effort will put this already head-turning debut to shame. Good luck on the rest of the tour and hopefully some of you will get out to see them: though I wouldn’t break my leg doing it as I’m sure they’ll tour again in short order.  I could watch OminisighT live over and over as the recorded stuff, while all but divine, just does not do justice to seeing Krishna, Warunki, Shannon and Rurik do their thing in person. Quick apology to local boys Omegacrom for missing the set: I hear you kill it on a regular basis!