Prognosis - Volume I: Ghost
progressive adjective 1. favouring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, asopposed to wishing to maintain things as they are
gnosis noun 1. knowledge
I really never get bored of doing dictionary definition introductions for reviews. Sometimes it just seems way too appropriate not to and, in this case, Manchester’s Prognosis almost demand it. The band, a portmanteau of the two words above, show wisdom beyond their years and a restless drive to push the boundaries within each song they write. Though the band have been together for just a year, Prognosis have made waves in the Manchester metal scene, creating demand for a proper release – and here it is, Volume I: Ghost, the first part of a very progressively apt series of EPs.
Immediately, the vibrant, lively cover art (courtesy of artist Paul Cooke) chimes with the introduction of opening track The Sycophant, which features mournful acoustic guitar backed by strings before being doubled over with a powerful lead guitar melody. When the whole band enters the fold, the track transforms into a powerful thrash number with some death metal screams thrown in for good measure. As The Sycophant develops over its 8:30 running time, the band add more virtuosic, classic-era Megadeth inspired guitar solos and use vocals sparingly to add texture and meaning to what is already a labyrinthine musical journey. Its middle section alludes to Opeth’s distinctly Swedish style of mournful melodicism, bringing the tempo down for a couple of minutes before more guitar solos and a reprise of the verse riff bring the song into its final passage. It’s one of the most ambitious opening tracks I’ve heard for a long time and, for a band that have only been together for a year, is only more impressive. If you like explosive guitar solos, then you might just have found your new favourite duo in Hickson/Weller.
From This Horror is shorter, more down-tempo and groovy than its predecessor, evoking the modern sludge of a Mastodon or Krokodil. Additionally, catchy NWoBHM tinged lead melodies pop up throughout the track, creating a strong counterpoint to the heavy and aggressive riff work and percussion. And of course there’s a guitar solo too. I don’t have the liner notes on which guitarist plays each solo here, but both have a very distinct style – which is a nice touch. It’s frustrating when two talented players become homogenous and thankfully this isn’t the case here.
Final track So Long is an epic, 6 minute long power ballad, full of winding odd-time signatures and (spoiler) more guitar solos! At this point it’s worth applauding these four guys purely on how much ground they’re able to cover in 17 minutes or so; we’ve done the epic metal track, the sludge song, and now we’re onto the power ballad. So Long reminds me quite strongly of Annihilator just before they fell off the horse entirely (Worryingly that was over twenty years ago now). It has that demonic, aggressive flare tempered with a playful, sing-along rocking foundation which really works for me. This is the track that’s been stuck in my head for the longest time after listening to the EP, for sure. Also there’s a crazy bass solo, and as a bassist myself, only scores the band more points in my book.
As their band name suggests, Manchester’s Prognosis display a unique combination of progression and insightful restraint on what is their debut EP release. Given less than twenty minutes, the band combines an impressive amount of different styles of metal and rock to create a colourful, heavy and rewarding listening experience with a little something for everyone (except your Gran, probably). You know what they say about live music though, so drag yourself out to a local show in Manchester and go and see Prognosis in the flesh for the full experience.
If you like guitar solos, then you’ll love this.
Words: Ben Armstrong