The enigmatic Gost summons the dark spirit of synthwave in Orlando

Masked and anonymous

The enigmatic Gost summons the dark spirit of synthwave in Orlando
Gost with Dance With the Dead, Moondragon, 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 19, Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. , $15-$18

Equal parts enigma and energy, solo electronic artist Gost fuses the relentless aggression of extreme metal with the sonic dread of 1980s horror films to create a monster all his own. Clad in leather and a trademark skull mask, the nameless phantom has made a name for himself as one of the anchors in the rising tide of synthwave projects.

In the span of just a few years, the synth specter has led the burgeoning subgenre down an even darker path than the one chosen by his nostalgic contemporaries by integrating elements commonly associated with black metal into his already menacing persona. Opting for an aesthetic that leans closer to the gates of hell than the neon lights of a dystopian skyline, Gost has taken the sinister approach of synthwave a step further, fully immersing himself in the darkness rather than simply dipping his toes in the Lake of Fire.

Alongside labelmate and fellow synthwave pioneer Perturbator – a Parisian with a penchant for pentagrams – Gost has kept the unholy spirit of metal alive and well in a different corner of the underworld, raising an upside-down cross to the masses in an electronic exorcism for all to behold. Both artists have released the majority of their music through Blood Music, a Finnish record label whose roster primarily comprises metal bands, effectively carving a massive SLAYER into the arm of a musical style that owes as much to John Carpenter and Goblin sonically as to Tron and Blade Runner visually.

After "learn[ing] to play music as a metalhead," he claims, "the process of metal finding its way into Gost was bound to happen and clearly has." The results of this process were perhaps most evident during his appearance at this year's Maryland Deathfest, the annual extreme music festival that features some of the biggest names in metal from around the world. While an electronic artist may seem out of place at "America's biggest metal party of the year," Gost notes that, "the response from the metal community has been overwhelmingly positive. Maryland Deathfest, along with Psycho Las Vegas, were two of my most memorable sets."

Upon watching Gost deliver an energetic sermon from a pulpit covered with a massive inverted cross, it's no wonder that metal audiences are quick to leave their doubts at the altar and embrace the ritualistic performance of a fellow headbanger. "When I played in metal bands, I enjoyed leaving all of my insecurities and misgivings on the stage," he adds, "which is most definitely what I do as Gost." Perhaps it's this cathartic sacrifice of spirit that has converted even the most diehard of metal fans into disciples of the Gost doctrine. Or maybe it's that spooky skull mask.

"I've always enjoyed musicians who separate themselves personally from their art, specifically using masks," he states. While other masked artists slip into and out of their respective character roles between performances, the presence of Gost extends beyond the stage and into the spiritual realm. As the self-proclaimed embodiment of Baalberith, a prince of Hell, he firmly declares, "I will never relieve myself of a mask."

If you missed your chance to experience Gost's performance back in February, then the time of your redemption is at hand.

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