PNKSLM Catalogue

2021 – Slash and Burn (PNKSLM087) – Listen/buy

2024 – Levitate (PNKSLM111) – Listen/buy


By accident or design, debut albums often act as a band’s mission statement. The first full-length from GHLOW was no exception; it was the sound of the Stockholm duo throwing disparate influences and contrasting creative backgrounds into the same broiling pot and, in the process, serving up one of the most scintillating garage punk records in recent memory. Slash and Burn saw two very different multidisciplinary artists finding common ground within a fiery sonic environment of their own design, one that paired blistering, reverb-laden guitars with commanding vocals in a way that exuded genuine menace and atmosphere, revitalising the garage rock blueprint in the process.

Three years on, the duo are ready for reinvention. Slash and Burn served as stirring proof that there is something truly special in the musical bond between Emille de Blanche and Nikolay Evdokimov, who, on paper, may not make for the most obvious creative partners. The former is a sculptor with a classically trained musical background, while the latter, an artist in his own right as a tattooist, hails from Russia and started out in politically-infused rock outfits like Scang around the time the Soviet Union fell. Meeting by chance in the Swedish capital, they bonded over similar influences, and a shared appetite for breaking the modern rock mould.

Slash and Burn marked an ending and a beginning, the closing of GHLOW’s first chapter and the opening of a new one. This turning point comes in the way that the album provides compelling evidence for the potency of the songwriting partnership between de Blanche and Evdokimov, who knew, having produced such a searing debut, that they could trust both each other, and themselves, moving forward. “We asked ourselves, “how deep do we want to go?” says Evdokimov of the early stages of working on a follow-up. “How many opportunities and possibilities are there?”

“After Slash and Burn, the lines of communication were really opened up between us,” he elaborates. “At the start of this project, we wanted to have the freedom to do whatever came naturally to us. We were never going to make the same record five times. But after the first one, we felt ready to make something that went deeper, emotionally. And this album was born out of beautiful conversations, and deep talk, about every choice that we made.”
The record in question is Levitate, a daring and ambitious sequel to Slash and Burn that maintains that record’s sense of urgency whilst also finding room for experimentation and artful reflection. The level of trust between the pair that their debut had cemented is reflected in the way the record came together, with the band eschewing all outside assistance and instead putting their faith in themselves.

Levitate was written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered entirely by de Blanche and Evdokimov in their Stockholm studio, and the result is akin to listening to a creative collaboration blossom in real time. “We took the risk to trust ourselves on this one,” explains de Blanche. “We knew we could base it just on what was inside of us - we weren’t thinking about outside influences. We dug these songs out of ourselves. I trust you, you trust me - let’s forget about the outside world and make something for us, that we want to hear.”

The album’s title suggests progression, and the band explain it as reflecting an in-between state, with levitation being somewhere between the earth and the sky. There’s certainly a sense of ascension; those who know and love Slash and Burn will recognise the same crunching guitars and raw punk attitude this time around, too - especially on songs like ‘Golden’ and the furious title track - but there’s also a more profound power to de Blanche’s vocals than ever before, and a willingness to venture into the building of epic, panoramic soundscapes, such as on the stormy ‘Dust’ or the thrilling closer ‘Sparks’.

“We didn’t feel the need to be in a high-powered mode all the time,” says de Blanche. “It’s OK to be vulnerable in places, too, I think. It's a more personal album, and it's emotional, but in a different way to the anger of Slash and Burn.” The result is a record that distills GHLOW’s punk artistry down to its purest form yet. “I felt like crazy professor in a lab, working on these songs,” reflects Evdokimov. “We were trying to get closer to our inner essence, with no shame, and more growth. We didn't have any borders, about anything. There's some old techniques, but the energy is all new."