Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Ghoulgotha - "To Starve the Cross" (Album Review)

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 10/06/2016
Label: Dark Descent Records


To Starve the Cross’ is simply too interesting to be lumped in with the multitudes of bands rehashing Death/Dismember/Autopsy, etc. because it’s too creative and varied to put it in that camp. Though musically different, this album deserves the same hype myself and others have given albums from Morbus Chron, Horrendous, and others. It might be a little more “standard” on the surface, but as you dig into the album, you’ll start to uncover the ways Ghoulgotha take the orthodox and twist it into something different altogether. Don’t sleep on this one.

‘To Starve the Cross’ CD//DD track listing:

1. Village of Flickering Torches
2. Pangaea Reforms
3. The Sulphur Age
4. Abyssic Eyes
5. A Lord in the Shattered Mirror
6. Damp Breeze of Sleeping Veins
7. Visceral Seas
8. Thou, Beneath Ligaments Foul
9. Wounds Immaculate
10. A Holy Book Scribed by Wolves

Ghoulgotha is:

Wayne Sarantopoulos | Vocals, Guitar
Frankie | Guitar
Charlie Koryn | Drums

The Review:

It’s gotten to a point now where the prospect of listening to any more nostalgia-minded death metal usually seems pretty unappealing. But, as it is with anything, if it’s done truly well, that’s going to override any other factor, including my own weariness for this subgenre of a subgenre. But, in Ghoulgotha’s case there is so much they’re doing well in terms of separating themselves from a bloated pack of bands in a similar niche, that setting their foundation in a tired subgenre isn’t really a factor at all here.

Where ‘To Starve the Cross’ works best is when it’s either being weird, doom-focused, or especially melodic. Using “Pangea Reforms” as an example: The song opens with a slow, convulsing doom section that peaks when it settles into a more active take on the kinds of melodies Morgion specialized in on ‘Solinari’. Everything is firing on all cylinders even as the song picks up the pace with stop-start death thrash, before teetering perilously close to losing control—in a positive sense—as the song completely does away with steady tempo or time signatures in favor of something a bit more free. Eventually, the song heads back into doom territory before moving into an awesome melodic death metal section, which comes in at just the right time.

Pangea Reforms” really gave me a sense of just how multi-dimensional and exciting Ghoulgotha is capable of being, and there are similarly great traits all throughout the album. The very next song, “The Sulphur Age” shines with a similar mix of catchy riffs at the opening, disorienting, spiralling for transitions and some unique bending during one riff in the song’s second half. Finally, the song settles into some excellently-written death doom late into the song’s five in a half minutes which really sells that we’ve been on a pretty expansive journey for a relatively standard-length song.

Because the album belongs to a genre I’m burnt out on, I came into the album with a lot of reservation. I’d heard too much of something like this, and I definitely didn’t want to hear more of it. But here I sit, hat-in-hand to apologize for judging this album prematurely. ‘To Starve the Cross’ is simply too interesting to be lumped in with the multitudes of bands rehashing Death/Dismember/Autopsy, etc. because it’s too creative and varied to put it in that camp. 

Though musically different, this album deserves the same hype myself and others have given albums from Morbus Chron, Horrendous, and others. It might be a little more “standard” on the surface, but as you dig into the album, you’ll start to uncover the ways Ghoulgotha take the orthodox and twist it into something different altogether. Don’t sleep on this one.

You can pick up a digital copy here (on release day) and a CD copy here.


Band info: Facebook 

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