Posts Tagged ‘Ghold’

Crypt Of The Wizard – 3rd November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

2015’s Of Ruin was a sludgy, doomy epic of monumental proportions, and its successor, PYR (2016), which saw them expand to a three-piece heralded the arrival of a more expansive sound. Stoic signifies a further evolution, and feels like their most focussed work to date. This means that there’s nothing quite as vast as the 21-minute ‘Desperate Thrang’ on Stoic. Nevertheless, it’s an album of immense scope and equally immense weight.

Opening with the nine-minute ‘Nothing Dreamt’, Ghold intensify both the droning doom and the heavy psychedelia of their previous outings. The vocals, low in the mix and drenched in effects, swirl amidst a backdrop of guitars as thick as slow-crawling lava. The thunderous riffology is balanced with extended passages of nuanced atmosphere which are delicate, even beautiful, as elongated drones drift into ambience.

‘Ruptured Earth (Head in Sand)’ brings both pace and volume, showing that Ghold haven’t lost sight of their thrashy roots, but have instead honed their sound into a glorious hybrid that’s uniquely theirs.

‘SKHUL V’ brings the heavy trudge, its ultra slow, ultra low sludgefest reminiscent of early Melvins. The percussion is immense, with light years passing between beats. It bleeds into the raging tempest that opens ‘SKHUL VI’, a frenzied and sustained sonic attack. It shudders and burns, and by the four-minute mark has achieved an optimal throb before gradually disintegrating, collapsing in on itself. It’s twelve-minute duration is a succession of cycles, a slow, grinding riff emerging from the howl of feedback only to become buried, lost in a vortex of its own slowing tempo, re-emerging at last as a crawling slice of glacial, minimal jazz.

If the whole deal sounds a shade incongruous, it’s to the band’s credit that they make it work, and so seamlessly. Stoic isn’t just a solid album, it’s an incredible album that pushes further toward the reaches of categorisation.

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Ghold correct album artwork

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Christopher Nosnibor

Given the vast array of microgenres and the broad spread of metal itself, curating a metal festival must be quite a challenge. A number of friends of mine have, in recent years, complained of events leaning too much towards a certain part of the metal spectrum, with an overemphasis on doom or sludge. A lot of credit is therefore due to the organisers of the first Hearth Life event, hosted in one of Leeds’ hottest new underground venues, Chunk. To describe it as intimate would be an understatement. A rehearsal room for arts and music which doubles as a two-room venue, it’s smaller than some living rooms. And yet they’ve managed to host 14 bands representing a huge cross-section of noise from the more extreme end of the scale. And there isn’t a dud act on the bill.

Using the two ‘stages’ to optimum effect, and keeping sets to half an hour or less means the bands are on back-to-back with no more than a few minutes in between, for eight hours straight. But by alternating the faster and slower bands, it’s neither a non-stop frenzy nor a marathon slog through hours of droning doom. That they’d not only got in a decent range of beers, but taken the time to mark up on the price list the vegetarian / vegan friendly beverages, not to mention having food courtesy of local ‘real junk food’ nosh merchants Armley Junk-tion on a pay-what-you-feel basis, all showed an attention to detail and general thoughtfulness you simply don’t find in larger commercial ventures. And most miraculously, the bands ran to time on what was an insanely tight schedule.

I’d seen around a third of the bands on the bill previously, so my expectations were set, at least to an extent. That said, the lineup’s diversity is the key, and discovering Human Certainty more than justified getting down early. Combining heavily chorused / flanged goth guitars with grindcore vocals buried in a fuck-ton of reverb and delay, while the singer battles invisible demons as he charges maniacally to and fro, they’re a unique proposition and a compelling live act.

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Human Certainty

A whole lot less heavy were Beige Palace, and despite not being very metal, it as pleasing to see the young band, making their debut live appearance, receive a warm reception. Not for the last time during the event, I was reminded what an accommodating and thoroughly decent bunch of people attend the events with the most extreme bands. With shades of Young Marble Giants, Beige Palace make sparse-sounding music that’s jarring, dissonant and hints at a clash between early Pram and No Wave angularity.

While the space given to manic full-throttle thrashing was extremely welcome given the current vogue for doom, stoner and sludge, the grindcore acts on the bill felt a bit throwaway in their delivery here: Ona Snap announced themselves as being ‘fucking idiots’ before launching into 20 minutes of frenetic mayhem made up of short violent jolts of noise. They were tight, and went down well, but felt a bit too much like a party band to really pack a punch. Similarly, Famine – who I think are ace, and have seen evolve considerably over the last couple of years or so – seemed more about getting the crowd whipped into a frenzy, and consequent, their set felt more like an excuse to go mental than a serious assault on society. That said, having bemoaned the too-cool-for-school audiences at bigger gigs, they played hard and insanely fast, and it’s good to see this crowd going bonkers with some wild moshing and even crowd surfing in an extremely confined space. A tidal wave of bodies almost threatens to upend the makeshift bar during Horsebastard’s set. There is carnage. It’s good-natured, but carnage nonetheless.

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Famine

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Horsebastard

Ghold, touting new long player PYR are a band on the rise. Having expanded to a three-piece since I last saw them 11 months ago, they’re sounding denser and more layered than before. The drumming is explosive, and there’s a perverse sense of performance, as Oliver Martin plays and sings with his back to the audience, and Aleks Wilson, while forward-facing, hides behind his hair and is hardly conversational. But cultivating this distance between audience and band work well, and adds to the intrigue of a band who trade in pulverizing heavy sludge riffs while also incorporating elements of psychedelia and offering radical changes of tone and pace. Epic sludge workouts are contrasted with fast-paced attacks, although thy always keep the ‘heavy’ cranked up to the max. One-dimensional they aren’t, and in the space of their half-hour set they demonstrate more diversity than some band manage over a whole career. They’ve got some chops, alright, and I’m not talking about Wilson’s monster ‘burns.

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Ghold

The heavy trucker metal of Nottingham monster mofos Moloch bring the noise and a different kind of density. Dark, sludgy and burning with anguish, they embody pained nihilism, they’re unphased when the mic completely cuts out – that or front man Chris is simply too immersed in the thunderous wall of brutal rage he and his cohorts are churning out to make a deal of it. Either way, the sound guy is quick with a replacement and they power on through triumphant.

Palehorse, playing their last Leeds show and penultimate gig in a sixteen-year career, are given an extended, 45-minute slot, which is the day’s punishing highlight. Although not the last band to play (that slot is given to The Afternoon Gentlemen), they’re effectively the headliners. I took no notes during their set, too engrossed in the immense, brutal sound, and too crushed by the clamouring front rows to even consider anything beyond the immediate experience. The event page describes them as ‘noise shitting bass bastards’ (they’ve got two basses, but no guitars), while their bandcamp page heads them as being ‘London Powerviolence’. Call their music what you like, it’s as heavy as fuck. The vast bottom-end is enough to rearrange internal organs, and contrasts with Nikolai Grune’s sharp, seething vocals. But it’s music that’s textured, articulate and powerful beyond mere brute force.

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Palehorse

It’s hard to stumble out of an event like this feeling anything other than elated. Live music is all about escape, release, and the more brutal and cathartic the music, the greater the release, and seeing so many incredible, intense bands in such close proximity is exactly the way it should be. It’s personal, intimate to the point of exclusive, interior. There may have been a few crazies in the crowd, but there were no out-and-out cunts: the vibe was one of camaraderie and companionship, the event a coming together of outsiders and misfits in a celebration of all things outsider and beyond the grasp and cognisance of the mass media and general populace. Let’s hope this is the first of a long run for Hearth Life.

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Shrykull

Ritual Productions – 6th May 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

PYR is the third album by sludgelords Ghold, and the press release promises an album ‘towering with a sonic thickness, frantic dizzying energy and shattering immediacy, penetrated by despondent howls and an uncompromising slice of remorselessness’. Christ. So it’s heavy, then?

You could say that. It begins with a slow throb, a low, deep bass tone that borders on ambience and lurks on the peripheries of awareness. Off course, you know it’s going to come in heavy at some point, but the suspense… The release is glorious. A throbbing beast of a riff ploughs in, the bass dominant, the occasional vocals barely audible in the landslide of sludge. After the 11-minute monolithic beast that is the first track, ‘Collusion with Traitors’, ‘Blud’ piledrives in with a squalling frenzy that’s more Fudge Tunnel than Sunn O))) and clocks in at an uncharacteristically concise five minutes.

‘CCXX’ brings more weight and overloading riffs with crushing bass to the fore, but it’s the 21-minute ‘Despert Thrang’ which dominates the album in every way. It’s practically an album in its own right. Again, it’d all about the build, about the pacing. Gradually, a tempest rises from not a whisper but a downturned, growl. Blasts of percussion and powerchords blast in, haltingly, threatening to break but holding back until finally, the levee breaks and the riff powers forth. What else is there to do buy clench your fists, mouth ‘fuck yes’ and get down? It’s got some serious heft, and evolves over the course of its epic span, finally culminating in a blitzkrieg of noise.

While this is very much an album made for vinyl – of the kind that you want to play rather than stick on your wall as some kind of hip-kid statement, the CD does offer a bonus cut in the shape of ;’Something of Her Old Fire’, a gnarly bass-driven grind that trudges its way mercilessly to a final climax.

For all the big distortion and emphasis on the bottom end, not to mention the relentless churn that defines the album, there is texture, and in terms of tempo changes and dynamic, PYR has considerable range. And yes, it’s devastatingly heavy.

 

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Ghold Online