This release – essentially a compilation of this Belgian act’s 2003 demo and EP of the following year – shows that this somewhat obscure band had an undeniable latent talent, even in their formative stages as a band, combining the best elements of progressive Black Metal bands like ENSLAVED and HELHEIM into an enjoyable, if at times slightly underdeveloped whole. I am totally unfamiliar with the band’s later works so I can’t say whether they have built on their early potential, but these tracks are certainly very enjoyable in their own right despite the band claiming them to be inferior to their later work.
Lyrically these songs are steeped in the abovementioned bands’ Pagan and cosmological preoccupations, combining smarter than average lyrics with searing Black Metal riffs and melodies that are at once progressive as well as moderately old school. The second half of this album (those featured on the “Blueprints For Revolution” EP) are the pick of the bunch, showcasing improved vocals as well as more melodic and slightly epic melodies that reminded me strongly of ENSLAVED’s “Bloodhemn” album. Their cover of VENOM’s “Countess Bathory” is a fun little number, with a little DISSECTION-esque coldness thrown in, while the epic “The Fall Of Winter” is a superb fusion of galloping rhythms and no-frills Black Metal. Throw in some effective chanting parts here and there, a splice of oriental melody (“The Procession”) and even some downright trippy moments (“Revolution Has No Deadline”), and you have more than enough proof that these Belgians are a band worth keeping an eye (and ear) out for. Their brand of Black Metal is progressive and adventurous but never pretentious, and the surprisingly solid sound ensures that every lacerating scream and rambling bass line is heard clearly. Good solid stuff!
Like I said, I haven’t heard this band’s other material but on the strength of this demo set alone I’m sure it’ll be well worth checking out. Don’t expect anything otherworldly original or even something remotely “evil”, but if well written and passionately played Black/Pagan Metal with a proggy bent is your thing then GORATH will meet all your musical needs.
(Online May 1, 2008)