Ghoulgotha – The Deathmass Cloak19th January 2015
As the first unholy strains emerge from the opening track “Gazing Into Melted Night“, I’m instantly reminded of very early Paradise Lost, not only in terms of the guitar tone and style, but also the vocal delivery. It’s also abundantly clear that Ghoulgotha have a viciously dark progressive streak to them.
The band employ not only some strange time signatures, but also use some very unusual and atonal melodies to create a real sense of foreboding. I’m not normally a fan of dissonant guitar styles, but it really works here, particularly enhancing the more straightforward riffing style when it kicks in.
One thing is certain, it’s not going to be an easy listen…
“A Neck For The Nameless Noose” is anything but meat and potatoes death/doom metal, but when the blast beat kicks in this track really comes to life. Vocally, W. Sarantopolous reminds me of Immolation frontman Ross Dolan, especially on the faster material and I also detect a hint of Incantation in there too. They have certainly managed to capture the atmosphere and sound of the early 90’s death metal scene, but have also added their own twisted take on it.
It’s worth noting that the production here, although fantastic,is certainly not from the Morrisound school and the band sound all the better for it. The heavily down tuned guitars add a real grit to the songs, while the bass manages to underpin the riffs with a sound that reminded me a lot of Macabre in places.
Ghoulgotha also have a pretty unique line in song titles as opposed to the standard death metal fare and “Austere Urns” is no exception. This track reminded me of Autopsy when they are in full on doom mode. Kicking off with a super heavy and intensely mournful riff, it picks up pace into blast territory and just when you think you have it figured out, a really off kilter drum pattern throws you off the scent.
I think a lot of people may get put off by the fact that these guys don’t always adhere to traditional timings and structures and certainly some of the more atonal aspects of the guitar work can be pretty challenging, but if you’re looking for more basic death metal, there’s no shortage of that kind of stuff out there.
What these guys have to offer to those willing to venture deeper into their music is an ultimately satisfying experience, but they make you work for it!
“Prophetic Oration Of Self” is one of the more immediate tracks,devastatingly heavy, it’s my favourite track on the album and again it’s very reminiscent of early Paradise Lost mixed with touch of Autopsy at their doomy best.
I’d also like to give a nod to the drumming of C. Koryn who propels this band along, lurching from a searing blast beat one minute to a wretched, painful crawl the next, never losing control at any point.
There is a distinct and resolutely old school feel to this album, but more importantly, there is also a real sense of unease, purposely crafted by a band who genuinely enjoy taking us along for the ride through the myriad twists and turns this album throws at us.
“Cartilage Imperfection” is the closest the band come to having any kind of groove, before we are once again pounded into submission by an intense, bass driven,crawling riff, until the pace picks up with some suitably deranged riffing.
Bringing the album to a suitably grim and horrific demise is the twelve minute long “Levitate Within The Curse“, arguably the most intense and challenging track on the album, it lurches along like a zombie trying to hold in its own decaying guts. It’s a really tightly executed affair,although the mid section may take you by surprise as from seemingly out of nowhere, the track dissolves into a kind of ambient, almost trance like segment, before a sickeningly heavy riff heaves it’s way out of the speakers, reminding me of very early Carcass.
All in all, it’s a pretty punishing affair, not always plain sailing, but the end result is more than worth any effort you put in.
Score: 8 out of 10
1. Solar Awakening (Intro)
2. Gazing Into Melted Night
3. A Neck For The Nameless Noose
4. Austere Urns
5. Saturnal Rites
6. Prophetic Oration Of Self
7. Arteries Unblest
8. Citadel Of Heathen Flesh
9. Cartilage Imperfection
10. Levitate Within The Curse
Dark Descent Records
13 January 2015