It’s probably a common phenomenon among metal fans to make guesses about a band’s musical genre based on their choice of name. The name Gathering Darkness, for example, might suggest flavors of doom, and when the band first formed 20 years ago, their focus was indeed on a doom-drenched variant of death metal, as reflected in their first demos. But as the years passed, the sound changed, and the suggestion of a dark, atmospheric, doom-centric focus which the name might still convey is no longer reliable.
As the interests of this Spanish band evolved, the focus turned to brutal death metal, but that genre label might itself be a misleading indicator of what the group have created for their new EP, The Inexorable End, which is being released on October 21st in celebration of their 20th anniversary, and which we’re presenting in a full stream today.
This new EP is a compact release — four tracks totaling less than 12 minutes of music. But what Gathering Darkness are able to achieve in each of these four hard-hitting assaults is impressive.
The band’s experience in crafting brutal death metal is plainly evident. The songs pack a merciless physical punch, with segments of pile-driving and jackhammering that are heavy and hard enough to reduce boulders to rubble (and your skull to bloody fragments). Clobbering drum rhythms alternate between heavy-caliber bursts and savage pounding, augmented by thick, jagged and jolting riffs. And the vocalist’s gargantuan gutturals and skin-flensing shrieks are grisly and grizzly-like.
Yet there are other dimensions to the music besides shuddering brutality. The songs are mainly fast and technically impressive, and manage to be atmospheric as well as savage. Rapid tremolo-driven riffs and febrile leads are interwoven with the head-hammering battery. There’s a kind of gleaming grandeur to some of the vibrating melodies in “We Fall”, mixed with bursts of dissonance and eerie, serpentine flows. Shards of unsettling and unhinged melody infiltrate the roiling derangement of “The Hermetic Circle”, and the leads in “Everything Dies Alone” are dismal as well as alluring.
The closing track, which shares the band’s name, is a racing fury, made even more crazed by eruptions of fret-mangling skittering, coupled with the contrast of a queasy, oily melodic refrain. And of course the closer is also hugely destructive.
In a nutshell, this is a hell of a good short release by these ravagers from Cantabria, and a fine way of celebrating their two decades of extremity.