Sound: Yet another obscure band review. Huzzah. Anyway, this is Gotherfall (the E had an Umlaut). They are a canadian Symphonic Black Metal band that are as obscure as you can get. This is the only album they've released, and the only Black metal I'm happy to listen to.
The first song I ever heard was when I was 15 and just getting into extreme metal. Its the 3rd track off the album, called At The Dawn Of The Punishment, and it instantly knocked out my senses. A sudden blast of distortion and operatic keybord chords with some rolling blast beats. Before this, I'd heard only bad stories of black metal, mostly about its monotony and low-fi production (not to mention the artists dressing up as demonic pandas).
This song alone changed everything I thought about it.
The album itself is much like Judas Priests Nostrodamus. Not really a concept album, but the songs fade into and out of each other, so its like listening to one huge orchestration. Its epic in the extreme, the drums are constantly shifting tempos and the backdrop keyboard orchestral sections are simply amazing.
The band are a much welcomed difference from the Black Metal norm. Instead of Low-fi, shoddy toilet recordings, its clean and well mixed. Instead of monotonous riffs and constant blast beats, each riff changes to a violent twist every few seconds and the drums explode in your ears. The band label themselves as 'Meta-black metal' to show their flexability around the template of todays black metal.
The sound ranges from crushingly demonic to exhiliratingly melodic. The vocals are a massed range of screams, shrieks, some growls, and some basic shouts. Theres even an odd robotic sounding growl instead of the screams in some of the songs and its unclear how they did it, but it works, especially in the song 'Skyzofleshist Plastic World'.
Every song, even the 1 minute fillers in between the monster tracks, are near perfect compisitions of powerful and mind blowing symphonic music. Unlike most black metal, there are deviations from the norm, such as 2 very good solos in Theurgie Mystificum, the 20 minute epic Ventriloque and the abundance of tremelo death-metal-esque riffs.
There are just a few snags with the album:
1. Its rare, very rare, I had to download it as a last resort as there was nowhere for me to buy it from!
2. The drum sounds are rubbish, theres little to destinguish between the bass drum and snare, and some of the cymbals sound like bells from a train signal box.
and 3. The songs have the most horrendous names possible. If you thought Necrophagist were overdoing it with things like 'Rupturing brain tumour' (as an example, no idea if its an actual song) then Gotherfall will blow your mind with Satyric Phallusbait Demonium. If you're wondering what it means, I can only guess as to say 'Giant Demons Penis'.
I honestly feel this is some of the best extreme metal ever created though, as its todays mixture of a classical theatric opera and brutal ear rupturing black metal. And this is coming from someone with an abundace of dislike for most black metal. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics, like almost all black metal, are very anti-christian and pessemistic in the extreme. In some bits, they resort to 'Yee Olde English' phrases such as Thou Shalt Regret Thine Execrable Life and even using French and German in certain places.
Sometimes, they use words that probably havent been used for centuries such as 'wuphoric'.. whatever that means.
And obvious from the song titles, they've melded words together to create utter sillyness: 'Skyzofleshist Plastic World', 'Satyric Phallusbait Demonium' and 'Prophylaxis In Extremis'.
Despite my liking for the music, they blew this whole 'epic' thing out of proportion.
That said, the vocalist is a rather skilled guy. He did all the vocals for the track, including the death growls, 'robo-growls' and what I call the amazingly high pitched 'baby screams'. And all this despite him being just 17 years old (at the time of the albums recording).
The lyrics fit the style rather well overall, though maybe some power metal style singing would have made it really shine, like 'Progenies' by Dimmu Borgir or maybe something like Scar Symmetry.
Overall, a bit too silly but the lyrical content holds its ground. // 5
Overall Impression: This album is a semi-masterpeice. Maybe not influental, maybe not groundbreaking, but its truly the pinnicle of symphonic metal.
Theres little to no comparison to other bands or albums, as I've not heard anything like it.
The real thing that does it for me is its difference from most black metal. Take Satyricon, for example, they have songs that are based on 3 riffs, and thats it. The recording quality is also rubbish in the earlier releases. Whats more, you'd expect most black metal bands to proclaim how truly 'grim' and 'n3cro' they are and how far in league with satan they might be. They did however, wear an abundance of corpsepaint and silly sounding names (like 'Cypher'), though more of the theatrical effect than for the gimmick.
The band have sort of split up since the release of the album, though its hard to say because they are apparently still active according to their Facebook page, where they have a nice group of followers. Also, at the time of recording, the members were all about 17-19, which sort of puts it in to perspective as they are all talented musicians.
I'd assume most people would avoid black metal for the general stereotype (which is true in a lot of respects) of its ploddy dullness, but this album will probably turn you to see that theres some talent in it, even if its just this album.
The one thing you might need to get your head round though is the crazy song lengths and the silly names. That said though, Ventriloque is a track of epic proportions and a fine finisher to an amazing album.
All I can say is, better off downloading than looking to buy, its going to be maddening to find such a rare album. But you'll love it if you get it, it should really be included in the '1001 albums to hear before you die' book.
So overall, a bordering perfect extreme metal album with rare talent and a little bit of looniness. // 8