Cocktail of progressive experimentation with
Gorath is a band that I haven't had the pleasure of listening to until now. Their name rolls off the tongue nicely. Perhaps it's just me but a name can be the difference between listening to a 30-second sample on Amazon or moving along. But coincidentally Gorath is only one 'Gor' short of being almost identical to a favorite of mine and I was attracted by it. I looked over the 7 track titles on this release and with subjects of millennial apocalypticism, the implicitly Occult, and all things pertaining to the biblical Book of Revelations, it wasn't difficult to assume what sort of tickling my ears were about to have. C'mon, the album is titled Apokalypsis. When I pressed play I had expected some typical Black Metal cut from the same (altar ?) cloth as all the rest. That's exactly how it sounded but only for literally the first ten seconds. A lone dissonant and intentionally lo-fi riff serves as the introduction, which is typical and not unexpected, but then in surges the other instruments in full crisp fidelity.
This album caught me off guard which, in my opinion, is a very good thing. It certainly isn't one of those cookie-cutter bands that regurgitates and mimics their predecessors in every way. The album's 49 minutes has an unmistakable vibe of doom, gloom, and despair which translates into Somber tempos throughout the majority of its play time. It has its brutal bits but those are frequently interjected with haunting, almost psychadelic, detours into grim soundscapes. If mental illness could be put to music this is what it might sound like.
The vocals are excellent. What I appreciate about them most are their versatility. They never become monotonous shrieks that hinder the music. There are anguished screams, furious growls, and despondent croaks that all enhance the overall feel of the music.
The guitars make extensive use of dissonant riffs, something that has become almost cliche I think. Allot of bands seem as if they're trying to say, 'I'm more dissonant than thou'. Perhaps it's an attempt to make themselves seem more counter-conventional and as far from the mainstream as possible. However, Gorath uses it with finesse and it adds to the air of unease generated by their songs. At times it's a bit too much but thats only a matter of taste. What I do enjoy allot are the dissonant leads, something that I don't hear much or ever. The guitars aren't as distorted as most and there are sections where they are fairly close to clean.
This album is a very fresh and progressive take on Black metal. I really wouldn't call it "Black Metal" per se, at least not compositionally. It could be described as a cocktail of progressive experimentation with black metal mixed in for an added bite. Where other progressive acts will come off as random in their arrangements , they do well at combining these opposite sounds and maintain a good flow. My favorites are tracks 2,4, and 5 because I think they define this album best and they are downright different from anything I've ever cared to listen to before. Gorath is difficult to define on this record and bands that escape definition are often the most memorable.
Hasselt / Belgium -
Netherlands - Gryphus
Oberhausen / Germany
- Schacht 1
by Gary Saul
gryphonmetal.ch. and based in the
U.S.A. he can be reached on facebook.