Led Zeppelin was a truly mystical band. Nobody else mixed up decadent, witchy lyrics with overdriven guitars and pastoral folk influences such as Pentangle and Incredible String Band so well. The Japanese collective Ghost understands this cosmology and has applied its knowledge to Hypnotic Underworld, one of the heaviest psychedelic rock epics since Physical Graffiti.

Led by Masaki Batoh, Ghost formed in 1988 to produce albums of kaleidoscopic acid folk while allegedly squatting in abandoned Buddhist temples. These recordings possessed moments of transcendence that only hinted at the power of Hypnotic Underworld. The album opens with a jam session that starts out in free-jazz territory, ramps up to a wall-of-guitar-maelstrom worthy of Acid Mothers Temple, and culminates with a heavenly chorus roaring alongside stomping guitars and distorted vocals about "Aramaic Barbarous Dawn." Think "Kashmir" but three times as long and intense.


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