Friday, September 9, 2011

Gorath - Apokalypsis (Unveiling the Age That Is Not to Come) (2011)


Fifteen years ago in Belgium, a man unveiled his music. Filip Dupont launched Gorath, spreading the word of an apocalypse yet to come through a series of albums. Now, years later, four men fly the banner, warning of an imminent doom. Tying together so many styles, beats, tempos and patterns,"Apokalypsis (Unveiling the Age That Is Not to Come)" is a brutal prophecy. For when the lights fade, only darkness lies ahead.

Things launch with "Before the Throne of the Demiurge," a track that is as eclectic as you could ever find. This is more than just one style at play. There are elements of thrash, death, black metal and doom here, all intertwined into a monster. The explosion of drums and guitars is devastating. The rolling of kicks and toms shakes your speakers. A short period of quiet is obliterated by pure black metal thunder, paired with the growls and screams of a seasoned death vocalist. What better way to put the exclamation point on a hard nosed thrash exhibition that with a clean, electronic tinged guitar melody. The bass line in this section is marvelous, with that light use of drums bringing it all together. Percussion certainly gets to shine through as the vocals kick back in, with one stunning fill after another. Those vocals manage to transcend any one genre, and embrace them all at once. Incredible amounts of violent emotion, pouring through each word.

The opening of "The Seven Seals" misleads you into thinking that, once again, you are submerged in a sea of pure blackened metal. But the guitar variations tell a different tale, with chords winding up and down the scales backed by a sea of wild, lightning drums hits. The vocal patterns are varied, with screeches, growls, grunts and just plain off singing sharing time. There is an element of evil present throughout, both in the music and the vocals. Low, spoken words give way to doom growls. This is pure destruction at its core, with each instrument shaking the foundation. The precision on display is uncanny, especially within the style. A short interlude, in the form of the low rumbling noise of "The Wrath Of God" cuts the tension, and starts you anew.

Clocking in at over eight minutes, "Le Porteur de Lumière," begins with low, slow chugging guitars. But after a short passage, a blood curdling scream cuts through it all. But this is a melodic piece unlike any other you will find on this album. The eerie cold of the guitars, layered with the sizzle of cymbals is a solid three minutes of glory. Light synthesizers provide the backing, creating a dark imagery. Even as things take a decidedly heavier turn, there remains a feeling of sadness and depression. The melodies highlight the hopelessness, with each making the other more powerful. The air of loss is evident, even as the track fades to a close.

The epic "Beasts From The Earth And The Sea" is a puzzle waiting to be deciphered. The vocals that we have come to expect from the album take a break, and we are left with sludge-esque singing. Not quite a scream, not quite a discernible note, but somewhere in between. That subtle use of electronics with clean guitar returns, if only to clear your mind for the slaughter that lies ahead. Again, there are borrowed bits from all of metals subgenres, with the deathly growls taking center stage in the midsection. But the highlight of this monstrous, thirteen minute track comes later, with light ambient noise crashing into a violent burst of guitars and drums. It wouldn't be a complete stretch to say that a few minutes could have been chopped off, but the musicianship is never in question.

Another interlude track, "The Whore Of Babylon" plays through with more "oomph" than its earlier brethren. Distorted guitars actually take part, amidst the flow ambient waves. But this is just a set up for the finale, the blackened thrash of "Millennium (Thousand Years of Darkness)." The drumming is airtight, with rolls and fills played with surgical precision. While there may not be any revelations to be had on this last effort, everything is where it should be. The track is guitar driven, laying the brick and mortar for a barrage of evil growls. Compared to the rest of the album, it may even seem one dimensional, which is less of an insult to this track, and more of a compliment to the diversity of the album.

Gorath is not a band of subtle thoughts and messages. They have, after all, been proclaiming the apocalypse since the turn of the 21st century. So, to think their music would be any less bold would be pure imagination. There is simply no way to pigeon hole this album into any one, or three, genres. But if "Apokalypsis (Unveiling the Age That Is Not to Come)" is an album to signal the end of existence, then the Four Horsemen might as well be Death, Doom, Black and Thrash.


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