(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of Godthrymm‘s new album, which is set for release on August 18th by Profound Lore Records.)
Doom does not feel like summer music to me. The heat normally makes me want to listen to death metal. I am on the other side of the bridge from Tampa, the birthplace of classic death metal, so it’s not until the storms roll in over the bay that I am in the mood for the kind of doom this gloomy British band churns out.
Despite having ex-members of My Dying Bride and Anathema in the band they are not weighed down by trying to capture the Peaceville sound. They further separate themselves from a great deal of modern doom by chugging forward with melodic purpose rather than getting lost in the meandering around a droning sprawl of sound.
Sure, the album opens with the eleven and a half minute “As Titans” , but it flows really well with a compelling sense of dynamics that keeps your interest. They are not heavy in the same sense many of the bands covered here might be, as your eardrums are seldom pummelled with an unrelenting barrage. The heaviness comes from a dark sense of melancholy. The vocals are sung with a gritty baritone that is forceful but not overbearing. Moodwise this reminds me of a less romantic Type O Negative. Not to say they feel the need to decorate the songs for Halloween, but are reflective in their misery.
“Devils” hits with a powerful riff that recalls Metallica‘s more purposeful and darker moments. They return with another journey back down into the shadow-shrouded gloom on “Echoes” . “Obsess and Regress” finds keyboardist Catherine Glencross taking the mic. Her voice might not convey the aggressive discontent heard in the throaty baritone of her husband Hamish’s roar, but having her take the lead on the verses wisely adds another sonic color to break things up. The lyrics to this song are perhaps the album’s most thoughtful.
“Unseen Unheard” gets to the point with a very deliberate stomp; it might not be the heaviest doom riff you are going to hear this year, but it’s well written. One of their strengths that many of today’s metal bands could take notes on lies in how they rarely paint your ears with the same sounds on every song, and employ many dynamic colors. Sometimes this lies in the nuance of the vocals when they back off of the bellowing bluster. For every album that excites me like this one I have already endured ten other bands, who tap into a sound that works well for the first song, then the rest of the album is just a marginal variation. Which is what makes an album like this special for me. It takes chances and deviates from the formula of the day.
“Follow Me” is the first song that latches onto the now commonplace hypnotic doom throb. It made me wonder how the song was going to be drug out for another eight minutes. The answer was to bring in Aaron Stainthorpe and let him pontificate with some poetry. Catherine also lends her voice in a more effective manner by providing a more ethereal juxtaposition. Speaking of ethereal, the last song finds the band pushing forward beyond what you have heard from them in that direction. It reminds me of The Gathering, and is an impressive left turn from what they had been doing up to this point.
For all the brutality sacrificed in the name of melody the album’s best moments lie in when they step out from the confines of metal. That is not to say they did not succeed at making a heavy album. They were just not content at stopping with that. It’s a great album to just leave on at sunset and get lost in the mournful corners of the mind it takes you to. It is also a better album than Reflections, due to the fine-tuning of what they already excelled at, placing them in the upper tier of doom bands today. This drops August 18th on Profound Lore Records.