As a proud Lancastrian all my life, it pains me to acknowledge the occasional superiority of bitter neighbours Yorkshire. One such area of supremacy is within the realm of Doom Metal: Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride have wielded the White Rose over some of the genre’s most memorable, emotional moments of the last thirty years and the latter’s erstwhile guitarist Hamish Glencross is determined to carry on that sound with his latest outfit Godthrymm. Debut album Reflections (Profound Lore Records) oozes the drama, power, and tragedy of his former band.
The opening strains of ‘Monsters Lurk Herein’ are pregnant with a nostalgic sadness which is reinforced by howling leadwork, inducing tears from the off. The slow, growling riff and Glencross’s emotive roar complement each other, but the tremendous depth of Bob Crolla‘s bass and Shaun Taylor-Steels‘ drums complete the sound wonderfully, not least during the lumbering groove of the bridges.
It’s a bold instruction for the rest of the album. The mournful leadwork of ‘Among The Exhalted’ is the governing factor but the switches of pace leave no doubt of the might ingrained. The undercurrent of the huge, dramatic ‘The Sea Is My Grave’, meanwhile, is a quiet, pensive musing toward the resonant chorus: it’s a Sean Bean monologue wrapped in a gritty, fuzzed-out display of feeling even he couldn’t muster. The delicacy of the harmonies coursing through ‘We Are The Dead’ gives a more traditional feel to proceedings but that aching tenderness, emitted through the wrought solo, chills the spine and allies itself to the Gothic bedrock founded all those years ago.
There’s an argument for Glencross’s harsh, Bluesy vocal as a missing ingredient: that middle ground between Aaron Stainthorpe‘s theatrical gravity and Nick Holmes‘ gravelled hostility. ‘The Light Of You’ is filled with My Dying Bride’s harrowing intensity, the staggering leadplay filling frosted gaps in the sound: but that voice roars with startling honesty, the phlegm waltzing with the chords to provide the entity with undeniable pathos. Then there’s ‘The Grand Reclamation’…the individual weight of each ingredient here, together with a near-perfect structure, highlight the potency of this powerful story: each protagonist having an equal chance to put their stamp on a movie in microcosm; the coda a rampant, Death-infused march to the end.
It would be impossible for many artists to maintain this level of expression but the album’s penultimate salvo, ‘Cursed Are The Many’, does not fall shy in trying, its tolling guitars duelling with phenomenal vocal power to tell a heartbreaking tale of loss and living with it: while closer ‘Chasmic Sorrows’ does exactly what its title suggests, sending cosmic yet tragic chords soaring from the depths into the skies above. Metal is often strongest when piquing the lachrymal glands and such effect is emboldened with each listen of Reflections. There’s a consistent magnificence here that stands this album against and arguably above many of its notable forebears and that, for those in the know, is no small claim.
9 / 10