Wednesday, 1 October 2014

GORMATHON - Following The Beast (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: September 29 in UK / October 7 USA & Canada
Label: Napalm Records

Following the Beast – track listing:

1. Remedy
2. Land of the Lost
3. Hellbender
4. Break the Chains
5. Celestial Warrior
6. In Benevolence
7. World of Sin
8. Remember
9. Absence of Trust
10. Warlords of Doom
Bonus Tracks:
11. Into Oblivion
12. Silent Walk

Band Members:

Vocals - Tony Sunnhag
Guitar - Stefan Jonsson
Guitar - Markus Albertson
Bass - Kalle Svedåker
Drums - Tony Sandberg


With the recent slew of output from melodic death metal titans like At the Gates and Carcass, and the glut of doom/blackened/sludge/stoner bands trying to grow their beards out in time to be featured on Noisey, it was only a matter of time before a new generation of melodic death metal bands rose up and started shredding in earnest. Let it be known now that Gormathon were among the first of this new pack of melodic death metallers, and definitely one of the best. For Gormathon, there are a slew of Gothenburg influences apparent on their sophomore full-length, “Following the Beast”, but the Swedish five-piece have enough talent and chops to stand out on their first release for Napalm Records. As you would expect, there are plenty of harmonizing dual guitar solos throughout the record, as well as chugging death metal rhythms that at times verge dangerously close to nü-metal – for which In Flames deserves just as much blame as Gormathon.

However, there’s a welcome variation of vocal styles here, from full on death metal grunts, to thrash-tinged growling, to surprisingly operatic high notes. While the band’s image screams melodic death metal, there’s a significant debt to power metal on this record, especially when it comes to Gormathon’s lyrics. Sometimes they stumble into silliness with near-Manowar levels of self-empowerment. But let’s be honest here: with the never-ending glut of doom and black metal posturing in the metal scene, it’s a bit refreshing to have an album you can bang your head to without immediately envisioning mutilated bodies or ritual sacrifice.

Plus, it’s nice to have an album without a requisite 14 minute doom/prog/space epic. In fact, the longest song on “Following the Beast” clocks in at just under five minutes – there’s something to be said for concise, solid songwriting. After a solid start with album opener “Remedy,” the album really peaks in the middle, with the trio of “Celestial Warrior”, “In Benevolence” and “World of Sin” standing out as pounding, catchy metal throwbacks. There’s some filler on the album proper, which makes the “bonus” designation of the killer track “Into Oblivion” utterly puzzling. But even for its shortcomings, “Following the Beast” is an album that I’ll keep coming back to. The lesser tracks haven’t grown on me much, but there’s a hint even better things to come for Gormathon. While this isn’t the band’s “Slaughter of the Soul,” it’s honest, earnest, epic, and 100% free of hipster bullshit.

Reviewed by Mark Ambrose

Thanks to Mona, Jon and Andy at Napalm Records for sending us a promo to review. Following The Beast is available from all good stockists now on Napalm Records.

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