Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ghold - Judas Ghoat (album review)

Cover Artwork by Chris Fane.
Ghold are yet another Soggy Bog of Doom discovery.  It just might be impossible to listen to that show without discovering something great.  This time around it comes in the form of a UK band who fit in well enough musically and were just generally good enough to pull the opening slot for Conan and Bongripper when that caravan rolled through town.  Food for thought for the uninitiated.  It's a good starting place when thinking about the sound of Ghold, and that's a high compliment indeed.  Of course, there are things which set them apart from not just those two venerated ones, but from just about any other doom band you will ever hear.

Press play and what you get is bouncing rollercoaster rhythms that someone accidentally left the "kill" setting on for.  Not so fun after all.  Pretty brutal as a matter of fact.  But no need to go run and grab the old mop and scumbucket because this ride will not induce vomiting.  You heard it here first people!  Fluids may be exchanged at listeners' discretion however, this will most likely result in bloody puddles.

Similarities with Conan run a bit deeper than the surface.  They have that same pituary aggression in the monosyllabic vocals and overall delivery whereby each guitar strum is like a bicep and each snare hit is like an injection of steroids.  Much of the time on the two longer compositions, Ghold plays it slow, standing on a peak, chest thumping and shouting proudly as a ritualistic warning to all the puny people below.  However, when the tempo is turned up, that's when things get freaky, like Bane pumping the juice into his system and blowing up like a pissed off balloon right in front of your eyes.

"Our Sciolist's Ritual" is a funhouse mirror's study in tempo.  From a crawl to a sprint back down to a crawl again over a fifteen minute course, the song takes the shape of a carnivorous plant and it's activities which are as follows: to wait patiently until that trap is sprung.  Then, a veritable feast!  Then, to rest again.  Or continuing with the barbarian imagery: stalk, PILLAGE, rest.

As "That Woebegone" slams in, you realize how special your time with the band's drummer is and why you shouldn't let it slip away unappreciated.  It's a busy and varied performance, once more switching tempos the way swamp dwellers change socks.  It's the song I heard on Soggy Bog and it's my favorite from the tape.  Oh yeah, I got it ('Judas Ghoat') on tape and it's an attractive package.  Both sides of both the booklet and the actual cassette itself are professionally printed.  The booklet, the actual tape and even the artwork itself reminds me of the heyday of tapes, it's got that feel of that all-too brief shining moment between the fall of vinyl and the rise of the mp3 format, when instead of an ipod I would walk around with a backpack full of tapes (for any and all moods and occasions), so that with each step I took I sounded like a walking tictac box.  Sigh ...

Anyway, right, "That Woebegone", killer stuff and as I said, it's the highlight on this tape, the coming together of the various ideas found scattered throughout 'Judas Ghoat' all done up in an intense package.  "Breathe In Beast" has its moments of skull crushing intensity too, but the watchword here is "dynamics".  Things go up, things go down, then just when things are seeming to normalize that when things go all pear-shaped and spin out of control.  It's a bit like the game Mousetrap, remember that one?  The game based on the conceit that 'a better mousetrap' is never as elegant as the one that actually works?  The game where you spent what feels like a solid month of youthful time building some crazy contraption to push a ball through the crazy maze and all told it takes like 5 or 10 seconds and it's done?  Remember that game?  Man, let me tell you, no one ever wanted to play Mousetrap twice.  That or 52 card pickup.  But 'Judas Ghoat' is nothing like that.  In fact, I like it a lot.  Maybe it's because I don't have to sit there and build Ghold's crazy contraptions, I can just listen to and enjoy the end result.  It's a stunner of a debut and though only 4 tracks, at 40 minutes, gives you full value for what you pay, which is entirely up to you, by the way.  Unless of course, you're awesome and you pick yourself up a tape like I did, then it's a modest ₤4.

Highlights include: "That Woebegone" and "Hairshirt"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 39:29

From: London, England

Genre: Doom, Sludge

Reminds me of: Balam, Conan, Highgate

Release Date: April 8, 2013

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