01. Eternal Hate
02. The Awakening of Lord Strigoi
03. Raging Spiritual Ecstasy
04. Nostalgia of Heaven
05. Spirit of Nature
06. Wandering Viking
07. Death of a Warrior
08. Ghosts of Ancient Days
09. Art of War
10. Downwards the Hades of the Soul
1er álbum de ésta impresionante banda española que practica un majestuoso y sinfónico Black metal que fusiona elementos de los mejores albums de DIMMU BORGIR, EMPEROR, SATYRICON, IMMORTAL... Una gran producción para un gran álbum!!
GOTHMOG arrancaron su andadura como banda de black metal hacia el verano de 2005, por entonces bajo el nombre TORN ASUNDER. Procedentes de Alicante, estos chicos sufrieron los habituales cambios de formación y de identidad de cualquier grupo underground hasta que pasaron a llamarse GOTHMOG y afianzaron su formación, en la que militan el vocalista Pikaath, el bateria Baal-Thamor, y los guitarristas Echak y Draug, que completan la formación.
La banda practica un black metal al uso, aunque con muchos componentes sinfónicos heredados de grandes como DIMMU BORGIR o EMPEROR. Abundan los blastbeats, los pasajes melódicos que pelean con otros realmente extremos y la repugnante voz (en el buen sentido!) de Pikaath. Si no fuera por el jodido cliché, diría que GOTHMOG apestan a Noruega por todos sitios, aunque pensándolo bien lo acabo de decir. No obstante, pese a su enfoque purista, la banda no da pena. Me explico: el black metal se puede hacer bien o mal. Eso es, centrándose en aspectos puramente estéticos y clichés musicales más carcomidos que el cadáver de Euronymous o pariendo una colección de canciones que luche por estar a la altura de los grandes grupos internacionales, no solo por imitarlos descaradamente. GOTHMOG lo hacen de la manera correcta, no os quepa duda.
Como demostró la reciente caja de 10cd’s “Spain Kills” editada también por Xtreem Music, en España hay metal extremo para dar y tomar. La cuestión es que cuando ese mismo fenómeno sucedió con el power metal, en éste país llegó a aparecer una cantidad de basura inexplicable. El metal extremo tiene una serie de exigencias musicales que provocan que el nivel sea muy superior en tiempos actuales, cuando los generos adscritos a esa etiqueta están más en boga en nuestro territorio. GOTHMOG obviamente no han inventado nada y solo están construyendo su propio edificio después de echar un ojo a los planos de otro que ya estaba construído, pero eso no quita méritos. Aqui hay temas realmente brutales con acabados profesionales como “Wandering Viking”, la enorme “Nostalgia of Heaven” (temazo del disco, sin duda, mi bienamado Penumbra estaría de acuerdo en ello) o la larga “Downwards The Hades Of The Soul” (larga para los estándares de la banda, que el tema dura cinco minutos y pico, no se crean ustedes...). Las guitarras inferno-epico-oscuro-melódicas de Draug (que también ha grabado el bajo) y Echak son las protagonistas indiscutibles de éste “A Step In The Dark”, que ha demostrado una vez más que aquí también se pueden hacer las cosas si conseguimos quitarnos el maldito complejo de inferioridad respecto a las bandas de fuera. GOTHMOG son la prueba.
As Symphonic Black Metal regards, it seems that almost everything has been said a long time ago by two bands from Norway and Great Britain, names of which I do not even want to mention as they seem to appear in the context of nearly every album of the kind reviewed below. Still, new groups inspired by the famous duet emerge and try to establish their position on the nowadays crowded scene. One of these ensembles hails from Spain and is called GOTHMOG.
It turns out very fast that the band borrows much from the biggest in the genre and later on one can hear that there are not so many features of the Spaniards own contribution to the whole thing which could be worth any bigger attention. Among the six tracks I have received with my promo version of this piece there is not nearly a single one of which one could say that it is something original. Perhaps the sixth tune called “Wandering Viking” might be considered to include a bit of some freshness for it has a certain Folk music touch in the lead guitar sequences that somehow suits well the title of the song, which in turn is another trace of something unusual as there are not many Symphonic Black Metal bands around that would sing about Vikings.
The feature that is the most characteristic of this group, though not that unique if we take into consideration other bands from this geographical region, is the way certain guitar and keyboard tracks were recorded. As for the first ones, they are sometimes very close to the sound typical of Power Metal, which in this case means high tempo and a bit untamed structures. Above all, there is a sort of nice, polished touch to these passages, which unfortunately is a bit out of place in the genre called Black Metal, at least in my opinion. I lack dirt here; I lack heavy abrasive sound abuse as well as some really stuffy air and perhaps a bit of grave breakdowns. The keyboards do not make things any better as they just seem to add even bigger flow to an already not so overwhelming album as if accentuating the light weight of this material. As for the more brutal passages, the third track “Raging Spiritual Ecstasy” is a proof that GOTHMOG are able to play a bit harder. The guitars here are very tight and the atmosphere gets pretty infernal as the tempo rises fast and everything leads to a catchy guitar motif rounded off with equally memorable vocal lines. The things get even better in the beginning of the following tune that surprises with a nearly crushing cooperation of the rhythm section and the guitars. The song just rolls over your aural organs, yet after a while the keys remind of themselves in a way that somehow spoils the just coined mood taking over a part of the command and making the tune weaker in its expression.
Frankly speaking it also would not hurt if the vocal department spread the band’s message in a bit harsher way not only as far as the most common here shrieking is concerned but also as regards some clean parts. Take for instance the above-mentioned catchy chorus that features such a performance. It is surely a nice thing to make the vocals vary but the way it is done here reminds of some dramatic and longing singing one can come across in Dragons-Knights-Young Virgins-And-Swords Metal.
As for a debut album “A Step In The Dark” is a good try, meaning that it does not just fall apart. You can notice that the Spanish musicians are making something they really want and that they feel comfortable with doing it. However, such form of music art is definitely not what appeals to me, especially if the ideas utilized here are in many cases but a copy of what has already been said and done. As there is a small number of interesting moments here, I am sure that the guys can still create things that will exceed the level of their debut so that they are not remembered exclusively by the most avid Symphonic Black Metal fans.
Młody, istniejący od 2005 roku, hiszpański zespół GOTHMOG w żadnym razie nie gra oryginalnej muzyki, jednak robi to w sposób dość ożywczy. Materiał zatytułowany „A Step In The Dark” składa się z dziesięciu dynamicznych, energetycznych utworów, które na zasadzie zmienności i kontrastu splatają elementy symfonicznego blacka i trochę death metalu. Szybkie, agresywne, a zarazem melodyjne fragmenty sąsiadują z klimatycznymi momentami, pasażami klawiszowymi, w tym fortepianowymi wstawkami itp. Podobnie wokal waha się od screamu, przez growl, po czysty oraz zbiorowe wokalizy. W sumie dobrze słucha się muzyki GOTHMOG, bowiem jest ona nośna, dobrze wchodzi, no i brzmienie „A Step In The Dark” stoi na przyzwoitym poziomie. Wszystko jest niby okey, tylko można postawić kapeli największy zarzut, że „słyszałem/łam to już setki razy”. Począwszy od starych, pamiętnych dokonań grup CRADLE OF FILTH, DIMMU BORGIR, SATYRICON czy EMPEROR na szycie panteonu...
Two or three years ago, it was a trend to play melodic Black Metal but as you know trends are trends and one day without any warning a lot of bands just disappear or change their music. At least some of them still believe in what they do and Gothmog which started its career in 2005 finally releases its first album "A Step In The Dark" this year. Even if the band is labeled as a Black Metal combo, you won't see anything "true" here but if you like Dimmu Borgir and melodic extreme bands I recommend to you this release. "A Step In The Dark" is a good album in the genre!
Gothmog is one of the characters of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and like Dimmu Borgir our guys use to play some kind of epic and melodic Black Metal. The music featured on the album is direct, catchy on a side and even technical with some cool guitars soli. We even have some really good epic choruses on some tracks. All in all "A Step In The Dark" is definitely not a bad album but I don't know why, something is missing. I'm talking about a good dark ambiance which must be on each Black Metal albums. The songs are just nice, there is nothing scary here and it's a shame. I just think that Gothmog just didn't find the way to do a real separation between Heavy Metal and Black Metal. The band will have to do something to fix this point in the future…
Two of the members of the combo play in Cain's Destiny (a young Spanish band of melodic Power Metal) and they give a real technicality to Gothmog music. Sure the purists will say that real Black Metal doesn't need any guitar soli but at least the other ones (like the COB fans) who want extreme music with real technical guitar parts will be happy. The singer has a good Black Metal voice and the drummer is more than convincing so with its good recording, "A Step In The Dark" doesn't suffer of any real problem. As you know I only regret the lack of dark atmosphere in this release. This is a bit too nice for me, to "heavy" in the genre…
Of course if you're into classic Black Metal and just can't stand bands which play something "melodic", I'm sorry to tell you (but you probably don't care anyway) that "A Step In The Dark" will not be for you. Being aware of this fact, other people know at least that this release is more than honest in the category of the "cool" Black Metal releases. The technical level of the musicians is really good, the songs are catchy, and really this is a good album which simply misses of a good oppressing and dark general ambiance. If the band can become a bit naughtier in the future, it will simply work. Wait and see but Gothmog is a promising combo at least!
That famous band from Norway having something to do with a dark castle had better watch their backs, because Spain’s Gothmog has made it clear with their debut album that they intend to take the symphonic black metal throne by force. “A Step In The Dark” has all the epic, dark, and melodic qualities that mark a modern black metal release worth its proverbial weight in demon skulls. With fast guitar work, raspy growls and screams, and mood heavy synth sounds, there isn’t much about the album that isn’t consistently pleasing to the ears.
Comparisons to Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth will be inevitable, but in this case that’s actually a good thing. Gothmog isn’t copying the aforementioned bands so much as they play the style so well that they deserve to have their names uttered in the same sentence as the genre giants. At between three to five minutes the songs are a little shorter than other bands in the same vein have traditionally composed, but the brevity keeps them sufficiently self contained and prevents boredom from creeping in. There are a good deal of influences from outside the black metal realm that give Gothmog a more unique sound as well. Frontman Pikaath has been involved in both a power metal band and a vampirism themed act, and those influences pop up from time to time to create something truly unique.
A few of the songs like “Raging Spiritual Ecstasy” use a more bombastic and high pitched clean signing that steers clear of going over the top and perfectly fits with the music. “Spirit of Nature” also breaks out of the standard growling territory by using a throaty gothic intonation somewhere between whispering and the spoken word. The vocalist has an overall amazing range, dipping from guttural and low to rasping and understandable and then back to the standard high pitched black metal shriek. The opening of “Nostalgia of Heaven” showcases how just a few seconds of vocals can completely set the tone for a song. The growl there is less a scream and more a physical force tearing its way out of the vocalist’s throat, heedless of any damage it might be doing in the process, to spread its unholy terror across the world.
For the most part the guitars are kept fast paced and furious, with a few short acoustic interludes for melody and a folk inspired fantasy feel. Keyboards are used sparingly to boost background atmosphere, but they generally stay out of the way so that the brutality is more front and center. As would be expected from anything involving black metal, there are a lot of rapid fire blast beats, but they fit the sound of the band well even if they do seem to happen just a little too often. The black metal staple of treating the bassist like an abused love child locked in the basement continues here. However, the bass isn’t always overpowered by the other instruments and occasionally gets to pop out to be heard.
Gothmog has taken a solid foundation of upper tier symphonic black metal and built on it with their own power metal and dark mood twists to provide a powerhouse debut that boasts a wide range of influences. “A Step In The Dark” has set itself firmly on the “must have” list of any fan of symphonic black metal.
“A Step In The Dark” – now that’s familiar, but behind the commonplace album title proudly stand the guys from the newly born formation Spanish formation Gothmog. And in order to cut away all misunderstandings – no, there’s not a single gothic tune here, moreover we speak about a killer debut album which covers all necessary requirements in order to turn into a masterpiece in the extreme music genre, by which it gains a well-earned place in the ranks of its co-brothers from the productions of the titular Scandinavian counties. Spain in particular is a country which despite its musical diversity has never won me over completely, which also goes with few but very valuable exceptions. On the other hand, Gothmog got into my good books suspiciously fast and for this I have to blame their already mentioned debut record, because “A Step In The Dark” is really far away from everything I’m used to when it comes to that geographical region.
The ideas of the founder of the band – Ruben Picazo, come to be more than just successful; it would be wrong to say that the album kicks off and enslaves every living and undead soul even by its very beginning, because that simply isn’t true. The same founding member, who lurks here under the code name Pikaath and takes the vocal role, has calibrated everything thus one can freely listen to this album backwards and still get lost beyond any salvation in the genius of the songs. And believe me, they are without exception all sweeping away, uncompromisingly powerful cutters with strikingly harmonic balance between fast riffs, symphonic-power melodic background, here and there some wannabe Equilibrium folk element and abundant quantity of strangling ominous mood, inspired from titans in the likes of Dimmu Borgir & co. What strikes my ears mostly still remains the fact that for no more than 40 minutes Gothmog demonstrate more qualitative, diverse and complex playing than everything which can come from so many colleagues of theirs for twice as much as this particular time, by which the Spanish boys become way and above them all and continue shooting their songs one after another like summoned from Hell demons. Everyone can find for himself concrete elements, no matter the substance which he seeks in this type of music – the guys generously give away solo or group guitar monstrosities (in which extraterrestrial nature I’m deeply convinced), frantic rifle rhythm section and whatever else comes to your mind. The same goes also for the lyrical subjects of the compositions, offering a solid choice between real historical events (“Ghost Of Ancient Days”, “Art Of War”), tragic tales of Viking-Celtic pilgrimages and battles (“Wandering Viking”, ”Death Of A Warrior”), or simply the psycho digressions of Pikaath to the Slavic folklore and his perverted moroi-vampiric hallucinations (“The Awakening Of Lord Strigoi”). The very same “storyteller” represents a great part of the absorbing sound of the whole record as each single hysterical black metal shout, coming from the depths of his throat, immediately becomes a vital part of the tracks, as though Ruben himself is breaking off whole pieces of his lungs and mixes them into an opiate music infusion with its own flesh and blood. And the bands, capable of this, are getting less and less these days.
Before I end this I’ll just mention that Gothmog isn’t a debut appearance for the brain behind the band by far – Pikaath also stands behind the prog-power metal groups Dilirium and Cain’s Dynasty, which achievements are also nice, but the more various conception of “A Step In The Dark” undoubtedly deserves even more serious attention. With his new band he offers something a million light years distant from just a timidly groping his way around and invades the space directly with all his strength, malice and fury, so I wish him a longer campaign at least this time.
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