Ghold – Of Ruin

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At the ‘Gig of the Milennium’ in Manchester, England, last September, a little-known London duo blew apart a path for Pallbearer and Yob to follow. Ghold certainly left their filthy, mammoth mark on that evening, and carry that on into their second album Of Ruin (Ritual Productions).

Following the path of brutal weight and minimal lyrics blazed by the likes of Conan, Ghold’s fearful cacophony carries added omen; a grimy edge to the fizzing, ploughing bass notes and a gruff, screamed vocal rather than the distant, atonal holler expected. There’s variation too with the whispered intonations of opener ‘Saw The Falling’ exploding into a Coltsblood-style roar, time switches expertly and forcibly executed by cavernous drums for a downright earth-shaking opening. The voice develops into a crackling roar à la Matt Pike during the ensuing ‘Partaken Incarnate’ with chaotic and pummelling rhythms building the atmosphere for a booming mid-section, the staccato riff savage and violent; whilst the clean vocal, reminiscent of Kansas Steve Walsh, shouldn’t fit but really does, and introduces a whirling, psychedelic coda.

The apparent belief in scene-setting is borne out in the sinister vignette of jazzy structures and false heartbeat to the building intensity of ‘All Eyes Broke’, whilst the mashing, uncontrolled battery of ‘Pursed’ and ‘Odic Force’ leads to passages of ominous pondering. The middle section of ‘Odic…’ is an horrific, quickening confusion, sound attacking from all directions and showing an inventiveness to the crawling, evil resonance.

The only issue is the rigidity of tone and cold lack of emotion which the occasional contribution of a guitarist, so effective in the live show, would awaken considerably here. Of Ruin represents the monstrous warrior, unmoved by pleasantry and unwavering in his savage wielding of a weapon, the merest hint of a switch in direction garnering devastating results without flourish. The riff and clattering bass of closer ‘Rid The Gleam’ drop from the heavens, whilst the squeaking of the viciously-treated strings attack the nerves like a prowling psychopath. More adventurous than many such cave-dwellers however, there’s mystique and intrigue in Ghold’s approach, showing the ability to lead and even change the game.

 

7.0/10

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PAUL QUINN

Today Is The Day – Animal Mother

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If you ever want to get some perspective on the insular, incestuous musical world we live in, spend some time lurking on the Metal Archives forums, especially the threads where they discuss which bands have been blacklisted. A group of self-appointed cultural guardians seeking to define an incredibly narrow, clearly broken definition of Metal by striving with one hand to fit those bands they don’t approve of into different labels, and with the other to think of excuses to justify the bands they want to include anyway, it is the perfect reminder that the walls between genres are not – SHOULD not be – as firmly defined as we would sometimes like them to be.

Steve Austin’s perennial hate machine Today Is The Day fall very much outside of the Metal Archives High Council’s definition of Metal (they are “noise rock” or “sludge-core”, or some other short-hand for “we do not approve”), but when Animal Mother’s (Southern Lord) first track thunders in on a wave of filth and despair the question is instantly rendered irrelevant. Animal Mother’s main musical coin is the filthy, heaving riff topped with Austin’s pained, furious roars and screams, but these collide with deliberate awkwardness into melodic passage, uncomfortable acoustic explorations and electronic noises.

Despite some surprisingly catchy riffs, Animal Mother is not the most accessible of releases, and there are moments which can sorely test the listener’s resolve. Repetition is generally used well, but some songs stretch a little beyond their welcome, and occasional jarring transitions between passages and tracks can leave the reader a little bewildered. These aren’t so much criticisms, however, as simply how Austin does things. He could write a catchy album of dirty riffs if he chose, but he’d much rather air his musical dirty laundry in public and drag you through the cramped, twisting, uncomfortable labyrinth of his thoughts.

Easily taking its place alongside Coffinworm, Indian and Primitive Man as one of 2014’s most overwhelmingly filthy and hateful albums, whether or not Animal Mother is Metal is a question entirely devoid of meaning.

8.5/10

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RICHIE HR