Something about finding work by a musician previous to whatever made them popular is exhilarating. By now, most people among the metal community are familiar with Ghost’s Tobias Forge, who played the personas Papa Emeritus (I, II, and II) and currently the Cardinal Copia. Some are also familiar with his earlier projects, the most well-known being the death/thrash metal group Repugnant. But for today, neither band are calling us from the grave. Forge took part in two groups that leaned more to the alternative rock side of things: Magna Carta Cartel, and the one we’re going to discuss today, Subvision.
Subvision had a very short-lived career that ran from 2002 to 2008, and Forge wasn’t the only future Ghost member. Guitarist Martin Persner and bassist Gustaf Lindström would follow Forge into the metallic territory, as Subvision ended shortly before Ghost took formation. Stylistically they fit best in the indie rock category, as the riffs have a very light tone to them and give off the same energy as bands like Cage The Elephant or The Growlers, just maybe a pinch darker. The band only has one full-length effort to their name, so we’re going to take a look at their EPs as well, and shed some light on this criminally overshadowed project.
Pearls For Pigsnawps EP (2003)
Pearls For Pigsnawps is easily Subvision’s most metallic release. But it isn’t anything like the thrashing riffs of Repugnant. Instead, it actually leans scarily close to the glam metal roots, and I can’t fathom how wild it is that they actually pull this style off so well. Don’t go in expecting it to sound like Ratt or Dokken, because there are also punk vibes and alternative rock mixed in respectively. Opener “Body Voltage” basically dances around all three of them, with its welcoming party vibe, angsty chorus, and rhythmically fun verses. The rookie production job definitely makes this flow better, but all five songs really have a hard time deciding where to go. “Pooney Tune” is pretty much glam metal from start to finish thanks to the riffing style and the backing vocals behind the poppy chorus. “Alienore” is sadboi indie rock from start to finish. Not a consistent release but the songwriting is superb.
Final Grade: B+
The Killing Floor EP (2004)
Somewhat of a look at what’s to come, The Killing Floor EP is a very short collection of four songs, the title track and “Necropolis” both making it onto the full length. Essentially this is where the band had shed its metal skin that coated the first EP. The guitars are lighter, the riffs are cleaner, and the general aura is inviting. The production is far more shoddy and has an echo, but that will get cleaned up in the future. Although this has the least to offer of the three releases, it’s a neat little focused piece.
Final Grade: B
So Far So Noir (2006)
Truly, Subvision gave everything they had here and delivered an absolute masterpiece. Take the songwriting tactics of the first EP and the flow of the second one, polish everything up and you’ve got So Far So Noir. Despite the catchiness everywhere, there are spots that hint at darker territory such as in “Beyond The Moon” or “Killing Floor.” The latter track is a tune with an attitude that still doesn’t break heavy territory and contains a rumbling chorus that’s delivered excellently. “Lady Morgue” uses slower tempos to its advantage to build a stillness that is both soothing and chilling. On the flip side, album opener “Room 611” and “Until Your Mine” are a bit more typical of the indie rock style and reign in a warmer atmosphere that deals in emotion. All of this is sprinkled evenly and the flow isn’t broken once from start to finish. Truly this is as good as anything Ghost has ever put out. I suggest that any fan of Papa and The Ghouls (or anyone curious) give this a spin.
Final Grade: A