GLDN – Hemophilia

Posted: 7 October 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been introduced to GLDN this summer via the gritty industrial gore-flecked First Blood EP, the vehicle of Nicholas Golden continues at juggernaut pace, having prefaced the full-length Haemophilia with lead single ‘Suicide Machine’.

While some are particularly sensitive about anything pertaining to suicide, its disturbing prevalence means it’s a topic that needs to be out there and under discussion. While rates among the young are conspicuously high, here in the UK, rates are now highest for men in the 45-49 bracket (my own demographic), while globally, it’s rocketed among those beyond retirement age. And, traumatic as it may be for some directly affected, it shouldn’t be considered taboo or require a trigger warning – otherwise, pretty much all industrial and metal would need to carry warnings before every song.

Point is, that suicide, death, and, indeed, the fixational theme of plasma and platelets that dominates the work of GLDN are as much tropes, themes as much metaphorical as literal – and that’s ok. To confront one’s darker thoughts is healthy, and is a world apart from acting upon those thoughts. More often than not, those who produce the most dark and grotesque art, in any medium, prove to be the most balanced and the least dangerous, as they’ve found a healthy outlet for whatever it is that’s chewing at them.

On the evidence of Hemophilia, there’s a lot chewing at Nicholas G, and he channels every last ounce of that angst into his art. The result is an album that’s tense, taunt, relentless. And yes, of course it’s harsh. Not to a power electronics level of extremity, but this is an album that’s edges are serrated with industrial abrasion every inch of the way. Oh, and there’s blood and guts all over – just look at the cover. It sounds how it looks: by turns incendiary with rage and ominous and sinister with disconsolate darkness, Hemophilia has sonic and emotional range, but at the sae time, it’s bleak, bleak, bleak, as song tiles like ‘Self-Mutilation as a Form of Compliance’ indicate.

It opens with the lo-fi punky metal thrashabout of ‘Animal’, which is as up-front as it is unexpected, with GLDN roaring raggedly against a gritty, grimy guitar blast. But ‘New Face, Same Lies’ is bleakly electronic, dingy, subterranean, whispered and tense and is everything you would expect. The contrast of these two tracks alone tells you pretty much everything you need about GLDN and Hemophilia – namely it’s every inch the gritty, dark industrial album you’d expect, but it’s got twists – lots of twists. ‘#1 Crush is just one of them – a chugging metal reworking of the flipside to Garbage’s second single ‘Vow’, it clearly recognises the song’s lyrical darkness, then plunges is into an abyss and culminates in screaming angst. Despite being familiar with the song – it’s something of a personal favourite from the Garbage catalogue – it didn’t land as immediately recognisable, and that’s a positive, and a measure of just how much GLDN have twisted and mangled the tune – or put their own twist on it, if you’re talking more commercially. It’s a bold move, and one that proves successful. In contrast again, ‘Half-Life’ is sparse, stark electronics and as gritty, grimy and gnarly as hell.

At times it’s pure NIN: often it’s much more, not least of all in that it does its own thing within the industrial framework and at times pushes beyond, making for an exciting and dynamic album, and one that is, naturally, brimming with anguish and existential angst. And relentless, pounding beats, too. ‘Suicide Machine’ stands as a highlight, with parallels to ‘Happiness in Slavery’ from Nine Inch Nails’ Wish, which is clearly one of Nicholas Golden’s touchstones – and it’s a solid choice, as a release that really took harsh noise to a massive audience.

Hemophilia is dark, dense, and intense, the sonic equivalent of bloodletting. And the production is tight. It’s clearly a studied work, and the execution is magnificent – not just the performance, but the production, too, which presents the songs in their best light, tugging out the details and the dynamics to yield maximum impact.

AA

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