Friday, February 26, 2016

Gol - Habit Entwined in Horns

Habit Entwined in Horns is the second full-length release by the Australian black metal duo Gol. This album was brought to my attention by a friend of mine less than 3 hours after its release in May of last year. Me being me, I jumped on and listened to it immediately just like every other black metal release I can get my hands on. 2015, in retrospect, was a pretty damn good year for black metal. So writing this review now, I’m also looking back on the albums released by Mgla, Borgne, Archgoat, Ghost Bath, Drudkh, Gorgoroth, So Hideous, Kres, and many other gems from last year and taking it all into consideration. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed when looking back at 2015 is the number of QUALITY traditional/generic black and death metal releases. The past 3 or 4 years have been all about being progressive; with VERY little attention being paid to the bands keeping the core of their respective genres alive and strong. So we could say that last year (and hopefully this year will be the same) was a return-to-stone type year for extreme music. But without straying too far off-topic, let’s focus on Gol’s contribution.

There’s not really a whole lot I can report on this band. My friend showing me this album was my first time hearing about them, and with no website or social media pages other than a bandcamp (click that word and it’ll take you to it), gaining a fanbase and attempting to make it big obviously aren’t at the top of their agendas. The band is made up of two members: Goet Euryn on vocals, guitars, and bass, and a human behind the drumset known only as Wretch. The information on them on the Metal Archives lists them as having been in existence for 10 years now and with 2 EPs, a demo, and of course the first full-length which was released in 2011. So there’s a possibility that Gol is no more than just 2 guys making some black metal in their spare time with no real intentions of making anything big out of it (which is more than okay, I’ve been in several bands like that).

With the quality and value of the production being a priority for some black metal listeners, I’ll get to that first. Don’t be afraid to crank this one all the way up; the treble is actually cut pretty low, making it easier on the ears when at higher volumes. It DOES have a “wall of sound” feel despite that one obvious change made on the mixing board. The guitar distortion is thick but quite fuzzy along with the cymbals. And the wall of sound-type mixing along with the fuzziness makes all the instruments blend together in a way that brings out an eerie dissonance that I personally think would be completely absent otherwise. The one downside to this is that the amazing vocals are sometimes drowned out by the rest of the band.

As far as the sound of the different songs on the record, there are 2 different types of sounds. Some of the tracks like Dionysiac Rites, Fire and Gravel, Righteous Blood Shed, and Habit Entwined in Horns, have a very dark, noisy, and dissonant sound similar to that of Aosoth or Sargeist (except nowhere NEAR the level of Aosoth, but the same basic concept). The other tracks (i.e. Not of One Skin, Black Rat Corpuscule, and Stillwater Commune) have the old school kind of thrashy feel similar to the likes of Von and Satyricon. But when put together into this album and listened to all the way through, everything blends together PERFECTLY. The songs individually may have a different sound, but as an album, everything compliments each other and creates a single defining sound that stays consistent. That’s one of the things that, when pulled off well, will play a HUGE part in my final opinion on an album in ANY genre of music.

The biggest takeaway for me after listening to this album is that this is living proof that the core sound of the black metal genre is still very much alive and screaming. YES, we NEED bands that push the boundaries and take whatever it is they play into new directions, but what the “prog nerds” don’t seem to understand is that we need the generic bands just as badly. We still need bands that just play straight-up what they feel like playing without any fancy bullshit or images or trends or any outlandish efforts just to be different from the rest of the crowd. It’s okay to play generic music, but ONLY as long as it’s honest, real, and from the heart. That’s something I have a lot of fucking respect for, and this album is a perfect example of what I am talking about. I would recommend this album to ALL fans of quality black metal. Habit Entwined in Horns gets my score of 17/20.