New Jersey rock band poltergeist. celebrated Halloween this year by dropping their debut EP Mercury. When you google “poltergeist definition” (the new Merriam Webster dictionary) it says a poltergeist is a ghost or other supernatural being responsible for physical disturbances such as loud noises and objects being thrown around, translating literally from German for “knocking spirit”. I feel like the three lifelong friends in poltergeist. picked the perfect spooky spirit for their band name as the three tracks on Mercury very well may leave you throwing shit around your apartment and screaming like you’re possessed. When I first wrote about the EP’s lead single “Headache” I compared poltergeist. to their NJ forefathers Thursday and the band continues to sound like they would have fit in just as well playing around New Jersey twenty years ago as they do now. All three tracks are carried by heavy, bordering on shoegazey, guitar work fit in between massive mantra-like choruses. The titular intro track “Mercury” sets the tone out the gate, opening with singer Michael Foster echoing, “You can’t have it all” over and over till his bandmates drummer Zach Khanlian and lead guitar Michael Voyack come in and blow the barn doors off the track, making Mike yell just a little bit louder. The track empties out at the minute forty mark where you think it might be done, and when the gang gets right back to rocking it hits like the drop on the Kingda Ka. Middle track “Wish” is the lightest of the three tracks, opening up with the closest thing to a twinkly riff we hear on the EP, this time carried by a chorus that changes with the tenor of the track. “Headache” sounds as good in the context of the record as it did solo, its heaving guitars sounding almost triumphant despite the song’s subject matter, though maybe confident is a better word, like they know exactly how hard they are rocking out.
I also wanna give poltergeist. some love for this EP’s absolutely gorgeous cover, I love how they went all in on the spooky halloween theme without it feeling like Casper the Friendly Ghost. The cover image looks like a dude running at first until you really look closely and realize that there doesn’t seem to be a person in the middle of the photo as much as a mass of empty space,,, maybe a ghost??? Then somehow this image even when coupled with the orange and black color scheme, the ghastly font for their band name, and gravely serious font for the EP title all together feels more like an early 2000s album cover than it does a halloween-themed cover, a tightrope walk they could not have navigated more successfully. If they throw these tracks on a cassette or a CD or something they’ll be hearing from me next Bandcamp Friday, but even if they don’t I’ll be enjoying these three tracks all autumn long.