Friday, 10 April 2015

Ghold - 'Of Ruin' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 16/3/2015
Label: Ritual Productions

’Of Ruin’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Saw The Falling
2). Partaken Incarnate
3). All Eyes Broke
4). Pursed
5). Odic Force
6). Rid The Gleam

Ghold is:

Paul Antony
Alex Wilson


’Of Ruin’ opens up quite harmlessly with a quiet, reflective bass intro leading you into the fold. The duo themselves have said in interviews that they are most interested in exploring dynamics and this opening passage on ’Saw The Falling’ is the first hint of it.  Shifts between quiet and loud feature throughout the album, with either whispers or throbbing bass build-ups filling up the space between the vocal reprimands. During the more quiet parts the bewitching voices accompany you straight out of the dungeon, often suddenly growing to soaring heights and leading off into obliteration, going out in a blizzard of riffs and erratic drumming. When the vocals come in on the first track, they’re commanding of your absolute attention. Absolutely colossal  in size with the throngs of bass and onslaught of drums echoing in the background, providing suspense and seizing you for any hypnotism they might have in store for the remainder of the record.

A sense of urgency does not leave through the whole duration of the first two tracks. ’Partaken Incarnate’ features some downright savage shouting straight from the battlefield that seeks to punish. On this track the vocals seem to be somewhat of a shared duty, with some high-pitched back-up singing provided from behind the drums that barely reaches out beyond the principal voice but nevertheless amplifies the inflictions left on your grey matter. During the steady chant that is reminiscent of the battle calls of Uruk-hai the clean-sung vocals come up front for a moment, only to shift the pace yet again. Some unearthly background noise employed at the close brings this one to a mind-bending finish.

Most all tracks lead straight into one another, making for one cohesive listen and never quite letting the overall pace subside. So the chanting continues with ’All Eyes Broke’ bringing a third assault with off-kilter riffing that returns time and again throughout the track. There’s an interlude providing time to recuperate before the song develops into a rapid second section introducing an especially groovy bass into the mix. The strength of ’Pursed’ instead lies in the blitz you’ll find yourself amidst at the opening where the levels of distortion reach abysmal levels. Odd time-signatures and quaint chord progressions are galore on both tracks and really accentuate the ritualistic atmosphere. At times you could almost smell the steam coming off the cauldron as the ceremonial pummel endures.

Throughout the whole record I can’t help but draw comparisons from the vocals to fellow Englishmen of Conan, both sounding consistently gargantuan, largely undecipherable and in imposing form for battle. Ghold undeniably have a distinct blend of their own though and by the end of the album there’s a lot of fresh ingredients brought into the brew, as the band never seems to stay still for long.

Befittingly, the second to last track wears the title ’Odic Force’, which is indeed what they’ve employed throughout the record. By the accordingly titled track, Ghold’s signature brand of plodding agility is fully embodied. The tempo has slowed to a ridiculous dizziness-inducing slog as if the mighty Conan (the barbarian, that is) had picked up and ingested some curious fungus off the side of the path on his way to meet Crom on the mount and is now stumbling on his way up. To further entertain such a notion, the hypersonic coil that starts winding by the end of the track might signify the expelling of the warrior’s insides and his accompanying shrieks echoing off the side of the peak.

Rounding out the album is a towering feedback-anthem, the weight of Ghold (pun intended) trudges forth towards the final edge. Whereas the previous track retained some momentum with a hasty sprint towards the end, ’Rid The Gleam’ remains stubborn to be by far the most punishing one on the album, careening forth at a snail’s pace and seemingly shifting to move only under the release of its own tremendous mass.

It’s really no wonder Ghold have found a home on Ritual Productions alongside fellow sonic shamans that is Bong and its accomplices, as ’Of Ruin’ is one concoction that conjures up some strong imagery. With some added seasoning in the form of mastering by the ever-proficient James Plotkin, the brilliant power and grunt duo have themselves one entrancing and fiery brew for their sophomore effort that will definitely have them climbing high up on the list of ’bands to watch’ coming out of the British isles.

Words by: Joosep Nilk

’Of Ruin’ is available here

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