Friday 31 October 2014

Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky - GH/OST:S Split 12" (Review)

Album Type: Split 12”
Date Released: 09/09/2014
Label: The Compound/Battleground

‘GH/OST:S’ DDLP track listing:

1). Pursuit/Predator
2). GH/OST:S
3). The Star


On their recent Southwest US trek, Tucson-based sludge metal bandits, GODHUNTER and Oakland’s cinematic doom outfit, SECRETS OF THE SKY, were selling a limited-to-100 copies, tour-only, cassette-edition of a new split release between both acts. On this combined effort, entitled GH/0ST:S, both bands supply brand new material, showcasing even further experimentation into each of their respective crafts, with forty minutes of material, including a crushing new opus from each band, as well as a haunting, thematic accompaniment bearing the ghosts theme.

Through a joint effort between GODHUNTER’s Battleground Records and THE EARSPLIT COMPOUND’s label division, THE COMPOUND, GH/0ST:S will see a digital release on September 9th, and a deluxe LP version on September 30th, 180-gram black/white vinyl swirl edition to be limited to three-hundred copies, each including a digital download coupon.

Released in February 2014, then issued in a deluxe vinyl edition in May, the fifty-minute dust storm of groove-laden, resin-coated sludge metal intensity GODHUNTER’s debut LP City Of Dust delivers is the most concise, diverse, and infectious hymns from the politically-motivated outfit to date. Through a brutally honest outcry the album boasts thought-provoking, thematic tirades against the governmental members and parties responsible for a wide array of vital societal issues. Released through a union of Earsplit’s label, The Compound, and GODHUNTER’s Battleground Records, City Of Dust is available in a deluxe 180-gram clear vinyl with rose splatter, poly-bagged with a black poly-lined sleeve and full-color 12”x24” lyric/liner sheet, as well as eco-friendly digipak.

Italian label, Kolony Records, released SECRETS OF THE SKY’s debut full-length, To Sail Black Waters, in October 2013, exposing the planet to the band’s expansive style of fusing progressive elements into their crushing doom metal foundation. Threeof the band’s six members each contribute with multiple instruments, layering synth/keys, violins and an array of vocal styles atop the crushing rhythm section and massive triple guitar attack, resulting in a dense and stunning forty-one minute opus ecorded at Trident Studios with engineer/producer Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Cattle Decapitation). The album appeared on many best of 2013 lists including Decibel, MetalSucks, Metal Injection, Metal Insider and more.


I love it when new splits drop, as I get to hear two or more bands put forth something unique for that record. It's always a fun way to get surprised by new bands, see who known bands like, or to just hear something cool from a band you've listened to for years. This recent split, entitled GH/0ST:S, features a pretty good pairing of two doom/drone bands: Godhunter and Secrets of the Sky. The album is split into two songs by the bands individually, Godhunter's ‘Pursuit/Predator’ and SOTS' ‘The Star’, with two 10+ minute epics of the album title.

Breakdown goes something like this:

Godhunter’s, ‘Pursuit/Predator’: this song opens pretty heavily. You have a mix of groaning feedback from either guitar or bass, with an overlaid voice sample of a man plotting a violent crime against an un-named women he has "feelings" for. It's a dark opener, and ‘son’ it doesn't disappoint, Godhunter don't show up to simply kickback and riff around. The band plays a heavy, simple groove style, with lots of overdriven guitar instead of a super fuzz sound. It's got the drive to make you tap your foot, and provides a platform that the band uses to full effect. The drums are simple and effective, as they hold the rhythm that the guitar leaves to them, fitting into the groove like puzzle pieces. It's rounded off by two vocal styles here, the gravelly, scathing vocals of the lead vox, with shouted, cleaner vocals from the band. It's a great call-repeat style, and it's not over used at all. The end of the songs sees it most heavily, as they segue into just vocals and what sounds like a very dark cello, and acoustic guitars doing the riff a bit more simply; with the voice sample closing, this time the voice describes his crime and where he is. To put it simply this is HEAvy and will stick in your mind. A very awesome opening track to the album.

From there, it proceeds to the first title track, GH/0ST:S 1: this is a long song, but not very out of character for doom or fuzz style bands. Its quite tame compared to the opener, and relies more on dark vocals and tone of the guitars to make a very close, gloomy atmosphere come out of the speakers. Like being crushed to death under tons of black velvet. The vocals are predominantly from a female vocalist, who sounds very talented. She easily could have this album to herself, and I would call it a good day; but she has another female voice that helps her at the first half of the song, and then a male vocal that just echoes the heavy darkness being woven throughout. Its a mighty task, but is a very heavy song, again, sticking around more than usual. It very much embodies the title of the album, that of GH/OST:S.

This ambling apparition winds down so the Secrets of the Sky track may take the reins, with their track: ‘The Star’, which finds a different tone from even the first two. Using more effects to their advantage, SOTS weaves a bit brighter of an opening, before a giant meteor of heavy comes crashing down upon us, ‘oh unexpecting mortals’! From absolutely scathing vocals, to a huge fuzzy wall of guitar, clashing with a minimalistic drum backing, SOTS brings a blackness that is a further contrast to tracks 1 & 2, completely dispelling the haze that GH/0ST:S was wafting about. It's a song completely focused on using the blackest riff and sound, to bring waves of heavy to your ears. Utilizing feedback and phase, the vocalist and guitarist(s) trade off on who can get the nastiest, and the vocalist makes a great case as he goes from chant-like delivery to a black metal growl from Satan’s own inner circle. It’s a stellar contribution to an already well balanced split.

All this happens, to set up perfectly to the 4th and last track, GH/0ST:S II, which rounds out the Split. This song is quite the horrific dichotomy, as it begins with a very beautiful and dark toned song, starting at a soft playing style, and fading in a heavy, gained-up guitar with other instruments, with a very stressful synth sound at the 2:30 mark, which continues on to about the 4:00 mark, and then fades out just as slowly. The original melody is played until the last parts of this song, around the 5:10 mark, where it goes back to a dark, deep synth playing (almost-vocal noises). Similar to chant sounds. This continues till the last act of the song, where a narrative voice has probably one of the most horrific stories, of a group of people who commit odd sexual acts, within their "black masses", in great detail, with a sacred statue or a person in place of the statue. It’s very vivid, and really brings all the darkness of this record to a dagger like point, sticking deep within the matter of your mind and soul.

Words by: Hunter Young

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