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Tuesday 2 November 2021

Reviews: Gaahls Wyrd, Goat Torment, Bleed Again, The Wolf Garden (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, Paul Scoble, Zak Skane & Matt Bladen)

Gaahls Wyrd – The Humming Mountain (Season Of Mist) [Paul Hutchings]

“… the concept of The Humming Mountain isn't big enough for a full-length album. The concept was something I had to get out of my head”. So says Gaahl, of this enchanting mini-album that his band Gaahls Wyrd have released following the much-lauded debut Gatsir – Ghosts Invited which wrapped its unearthly tendrils around us in 2019.

There may not be enough for a full-length release, but The Humming Mountain contains nearly 30 minutes of atmospheric uniqueness that links conceptually with the previous release. In fact, three of the tracks have been refashioned, destined originally for Ghosts Invited but not fitting conceptually at the time. These three tracks are bookended by The Seed and The Sleep, the former a gentle, slow burn that spans a third of the entire record. Utilising the depths of black metal’s more esoteric elements, which Gaahl has used to great effect in Wardruna, The Seed is a lesson in how to maintain tension. Keyboard, guitar, and effects combine with the unworldly vocal delivery to create a soundscape which its easy to lose oneself in.

Chasmic kaleidoscopes are the order of the day on the three middle tracks, with each conjuring imagery of sweeping glacial landscapes. Contextually, the album focuses on patience in the universal sense, and this slots together both lyrically and musically. The riffs are seismic in proportion, the tempo intense and dramatic. There’s a ferocious blast on The Dwell, which changes the dynamics substantially, reverting to dare I say, a more traditional fiery black metal style. That’s not to say that the other parts of this album don’t draw deep from the genre’s roots for one minute. The blend of haunting gothic and frantic riffing takes centre stage on penultimate song, Awakening Remains - Before Leaving; a huge song that soars high with fantastic melodies and addictive rhythm.

This leads to the finale; the dark and sonically challenging The Sleep which echoes mournfully and closes off the latest release from one of metal’s most intriguing and captivating artists. 8/10

Goat Torment - Forked Tongues (Season Of Mist Underground Activists) [Paul Scoble]

Belgium duo Goat Torment have been making revolting noises since 2008. The band, made up of Kwel on Guitar, Bass and Vocals and Torturer on Drums, have released 2 albums before Forked Tongues; Dominande Tenebrae in 2013 and Sermons To Dark two years later in 2015. When I referred to the band as making Revolting Noises, I was not messing around; Goat Torment play a very fast, savage and very nasty style of Blackened Death Metal, some tracks have the balance closer to Death Metal, some closer to Black Metal, and in many ways this is closest to Black/Death/War metal as it’s so ferocious.

Everything on this album is pushed to the extreme. Super fast, spikey Tremolo Picked riffs dominate, some of which are smooth and very fast, others are staccato, barbed and feel pummelling. The drumming pushes everything forward in a very purposeful way, and on the staccato riffs the snare is used to great effect to batter the listener. A good example of the fast and flowing riffs in at the beginning of the track Ravenous Ghouls where the riffs, mainly Death Metal in style, have huge amounts of velocity and inertia. This part of the song has vast amounts of energy and drive. In many ways the final fast section of this song has some riffs that demonstrate perfectly the spikey, staccato riffs that make such great use of the machine gun snare I mentioned earlier.

The Guitar solos are too shabby either, Disorder And Disruption, which is a great mix blasting Death Metal and spikey, nasty riffs features a properly unhinged solo featuring some great dive bombs. Profanation also has a fantastic solo that really adds to the song. Profanation also features a really great Vocal performance, something that makes this album stand out from a lot of the other really extreme music being produced at the moment. The vocals are beautifully deranged and berserk with a decent amount of personality, the Vocals are fantastic all through the album, but Profanation is where they hit their peak. I’ve talked about fast parts, this album also excels at being slow and very nasty, the song Cursed features a middle section that sickeningly slow and putrid, it reminds me a little of Bolt Thrower, and a lot of Autopsy. The lack of speed doesn’t diminish how extreme and viscous this album is as these parts are so sick and twisted. 

There is another standout slow part on the track Deceitful Faith. The middle section is slow and nasty and also features a voice sample of an evangelical christian preacher (there is a certain amount of anti-religious feeling on this album. Who’d of thought it? A Blackened Death Metal band that isn’t keen on religion!). The slow sections help to keep everything interesting, and are a great juxtaposition to the fast and frenetic material, making the fast parts faster and the slow and nasty sections slower and nastier. Forked Tongue is a fantastic piece of Blackened Death Metal. Everything on this album is pushed as far as it will go, staggering pace, deliberately unpleasant and obnoxious, and when it’s finished messing with your head, it batters you into submission. 

Metal this extreme is very difficult to pull of and get right, and Goat Torment have done it almost perfectly, the fast stuff is battering and in your face, but is still full of inertia, speed and to a certain extent melody, and the slow and repulsive riffs are so good, almost like they recorded the slow riffs and then left them out in the kitchen on a really hot sunny day so they started to rot, and putrefy before being put on this album. Deliciously nasty and extreme. 9/10

Bleed Again – Resurgence (Self Released) [Zak Skane]

Hailing from Brighton Bleed Again have been around since the late 2000’s but it wasn’t till 2015 in which the band started to gain widespread attention from sharing line ups with bands like King 810, Devil Sold His Soul and Darkest Hour as well as landing themselves a European tour. Now they have released their highly anticipated sophomore album Resurgence.

As soon that classic pull off riff (that’s most probably played on the D string) starts to build up the tension till it kicked in with the double kick drum beat layered with groovy palm muted riffs I knew this was promising. The momentum carries on with the following track Survive in which the bands more groovier territory with the drummer holding back on the double kicks and letting the guitars and bass fill the pocket of the song. Sign Of Fire allows us to see the band screeching their song writing abilities with the anthemic First Sign Of Fire with the song starting off with a moving piano intro before the fist pumping instrumentation comes in. The vocal trade off between harsh and clean sound balanced and suit the arrangements perfectly. Other highlights from this album are The Execution in is the most upbeat song on the album in which takes ode to classic era Metalcore by featuring galloped guitars and souring melodic lead lines and Forgotten Ghosts takes hints of modern metal with djenting guitars infused with soaring leads.

Overall this a every good album from the Brighton boys, this album really does shows their influences that they show on their sleeves with pride but they also add their own flavour to the Metalcore sound. Even though the album doesn’t really re-shape the wheel the band have produced a great and genuine effort for the subgenre, 8/10

The Wolf Garden – Woven Of Serpent’s Spines (Naturmacht Productions) [Matt Bladen]

At 46 minutes but only 5 tracks, you can understand why I say that Woven Of Serpent’s Tongue is an epic album. Only Quietus, which is essentially an intermission is short, but it is placed in the middle of the album to break up the monolithian slabs of misanthropic, atmospheric black metal that come before and after it. This is the debut full length from The Wolf Garden, the latest project from long British extreme metal veteran Omnio, essentially a solo project for him, the only other member is Valtiel on drums, as Omnio plays everything else. The album is based around the Old English Gods and Norse mythology and musically owes much to those other worshippers of the Old World Winterfylleth. It follows on from the EP The Yawning Abyss, and while that was good, Woven Of Serpent’s Spines feels much more rounded as a release. 

The swathes of aggressive tremolo picking, so often fades into patches of haunting keys and strummed clean guitars as the first track The Flood (Seeress) features a spoken word passage from Marina “Toyota Maus” Lai. It is an ideal introduction to The Wolf Garden version of what atmospheric black metal is, creating ominous but ethereal soundscapes. Another Crows Beneath The Earth, has yet more light and shade, but pairs this with a more anthemic directness and a Gothic synth heavy coda towards the end as the savagery returns before turning into that haunting intermission that ably shifts back into gear for the excellent The Silence Between The Stars a song that creates a wonderfully chilling aura combined with a forcefulness from Valtiel’s expressive drumming and the additional keys of Sumarbrander. So many one man projects can be a bit lacklustre but The Wolf Garden isn’t Omnio has mastery over all the instruments he plays, his voice is just raw enough but still understandable. 

But what really wins you over is the composition of this album, the use of light and shade, noise and quiet, it makes it a joy to experience. As the album climaxes with The Drought (Weavess), you feel the need to start the record again to pick out the nuances you missed earlier, though this track is also wonderfully dense in musicianship even featuring some ‘ghost vocals’ from Katrina Turk. Praise to the Old Gods with Woven Of Serpent’s Spines. 8/10

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