Golgothan Remains - Perverse Offerings to the Void - (9/10)
Published on March 27, 2018
Onward to Dissonance
When it comes to death metal, I’m generally a traditionalist. I prefer my death metal of the old school variety, taking its primary influence from the early masters like Morbid Angel, Autopsy, Incantation, et al. No tech, no prog, no wank. But occasionally, a less traditional death metal band comes around who tickles my fancy. Last year, that band was Suffering Hour, who released a stellar blackened death metal album that utilized a whole boatload of dissonance to create something very special. This year, another band has taken a similar path, and they’ve come up with something excellent as well.
Their name is Golgothan Remains.
Though these fellas take some cues from the mighty Incantation—especially the notably putrid vocals—they incorporate heavy doses of dissonance to create something all their own. The best descriptor I can come up with for the riffs on this album is “swirling.” They give one the feeling of being lost in a void or being sucked into another dimension. There is plenty of influence from totally mad bands like Deathspell Omega and Ulcerate here, but not enough to put this in the “blackened” or “technical” camp of death metal. Golgothan Remains stick closely enough to the classic techniques to make this beast wholly identifiable as death metal, while adding perverse twists and turns along the way. While riffs tend to utilize a tremolo-based attack, there are lots of weird-as-fuck bends and chord choices that turn them into otherworldly creatures. From time to time the music slows down and clean guitars echo out (most notably on the outstanding instrumental “Void”). These clean guitars, combined with the occasional arpeggiated chord, create a truly eerie feeling that helps to build the album’s atmosphere. The band uses space and tempo masterfully, making sure to create a dynamic experience by changing speeds and textures often.
As for the rhythm section, the drums are almost militaristic in their aggression. Blast beats are extremely forceful and well-executed. The drumming injects a heavy dose of intensity and urgency to the proceedings, constantly pushing the album forward toward oblivion. There is also an incredible synchronicity between the drums and guitars that is wondrous to behold. When things slow down a bit, “A” uses nice drum runs to fill up the empty space left by the guitars and bass. “A.” is not just a battering ram, though. He also integrates intricate cymbal work into his hammering—see the refrain on “Timeless Eradicator” to understand what I mean. The album is quite bass-heavy, which helps tether it to the death metal tradition. The bass has a very nice tone and is nicely audible throughout the album. While the guitars go off on their dissonant flights of fancy, the bass keeps all the instruments moored to a pounding rhythm. The whole band has a fascinating way of using rhythm, creating some very interesting sections. See, for example, the first riff in “Looped Depraved Spell,” which somehow is manipulated into a riff that sounds both trudging, doomy, and lightning quick in alternate measures.
Though dissonance is a key element to the riffing here, the album never descends into utter chaos. The fact that the bass, drums, and vocals stick pretty close to classic death metal stylings helps this thing to keep a feeling of an old, comfortable friend while still seeming like a bodysnatcher who may suck your brain out through your ears. Golgothan Remains have released one of the early high points in death metal for 2018, so if you’re interested in some angular, frightening, but still riffy death metal, this one here is for you.