GGGOLDDD, based in the Netherlands, have for the past decade been releasing material that defies genre conventions and blurs the boundaries between all manner of musical styles, from Metal, to post-Punk, to Pop, to Trip-Hop. Their fifth full-length release, This Shame Should Not Be Mine (Artoffact Records) is based around deeply personal themes to vocalist Milena Eva, who uses this record, conceived during the 2020 lockdown, to address traumatic events including sexual assault.
Eva’s commanding and sensuous voice dominates the songs here. They are mixed to be upfront and transparent so that you can hear every nuance of expression and understand every word. With different musical arrangements, the songs and vocal delivery could be closely comparable to more mainstream dark pop such as Lana Del Rey. The songs are memorable, catchy and succinct; there is certainly a heavy dose of darkness but this is balanced by a pervading sense of melody that instantly hooks you in and keeps you captivated.
The music underneath is a brilliant concoction of intricate stylistically ambiguous layers. Eva herself provides some of the electronic parts, as does Thomas Sciarone (who also plays guitar), and they are joined by Vincent Shore (guitars), Jaka Bolič (guitars), Danielle Warners (bass) and Igor Wouters (drums). This extended lineup allows for an approach that owes a lot to post-rock and even classical music. Melodies and harmonies intertwine evocatively and synths pulsate hypnotically. The orchestration is wonderful and expertly executed. The use of percussion ranges between ominous distant war drumming and full-on metal blast beats; the dynamics are incredible.
At times the music could slot perfectly onto a Portishead record, and at others it could be part of an Alcest track. Often the styles mesh together seamlessly — for example, with clean reverb-drenched black metal guitars dancing up against glitchy synths and trip hop drums. This stylistic variation always serves to support the song and the atmosphere, and the music always feels cohesive.
In fact, there are many times when This Shame Should Not Be Mine doesn’t really sound like anything other than itself; when it feels as though GGGOLDDD might have successfully created their own style.
Emotionally, This Shame Should Not Be Mine is fittingly dark for the subject matter, but it also feels dreamlike and hopeful in many places. Some of the tracks, such as ‘Notes on How to Trust’ are almost danceable. It feels as though the album documents, track by track, the progressive acceptance and overcoming of the traumas it addresses. Towards the end of the record the feel becomes more euphoric: the gracefully defiant ‘On You’ leads into final track ‘Beat by Beat’, which begins with an unsettling robotic synth pattern and ends with an ecstatic and rapturous post-Rock climax that feels transcendental — like finally being able to see past the darkness and out to a fresh and open landscape. It’s a powerful journey that offers a cleansing effect.
This Shame Should Not Be Mine’s melding of disparate influences might be confusing and off-putting to those who feel that music should keep within its predefined parameters. To those with diverse taste, an ear for exquisite songwriting, and an affinity with dark and deep emotional music, however, it will rightly be considered a finely crafted masterpiece.
Buy the album here: https://gggolddd.bandcamp.com/album/this-shame-should-not-be-mine
8 / 10