|4 (1 votes):|
Gather round ‘ye children of the night and feast your eyes upon the freshly mulched mound of horror! Though the ghastly month of October has passed (unceremoniously) a while ago, many a band attempt to rekindle a sense of a foreboding atmosphere through the suffocating machinations of their albums. Nowhere else can you find a sense of damp macabre and thick fear than in the realm of doom metal, rich with soundscapes of eerie graveyards and things that go bump in the night. That’s we’re stoner/doom metal band Mad God from South Africa come into play, with their sophomore album Grotesque and Inexorable. GaI is a 48-minute crawl through dirty haunted grounds, all in the spirit of all thing’s horror: Lovecraftian creatures, Murders, Charles Manson, Satan, the whole 9 yards. And while some aspects of this adventure through madness might leave you mad yourself, it’s for the most part an enjoyable ride.
GaI’s sound is as unforgiving as it is monstrous. Make sure to turn up your bass for this one, because holy hell is it thick. The guitars paired up along with it are a pounding force that make up the ominous hum that is this album’s backbone. This hum rarely changes speed and is long-driving force that propels itself through the thick fog of the atmosphere. Of course, this opens itself up to a glaring flaw, which is a lack of dynamics. Nothing else in the mix or in the album really pops out at me when listening to it, besides the bass drum. It’s a bass heavy focus that when underutilized changes a song from a haunting funeral march to a pitiful anorexic crawl. Thankfully, only one track is guilty of this leech of energy, that track being the fourth one: The Crawling Chaos. What an accurate coincidence. On the other side of the spectrum is track 5: No Prayers, No Fires, which assaults your ears (in a good way) with a maniacal, thumping bass riff.
Contrasting with the weight-y heaviness of the album’s sound, are the vocals, supplied by Tim Harbour. Tim’s vocal performance is peculiar in that he opts to use clean singing rather than give a complementing growl most of the time. There’s an occasional sneer or an attempt to sound more gravely, but for the most part he is way more singsong than the instruments let on. His performance isn’t half-bad and ranges from trilling echoes to creeping chants. His patterns on the other hand, hoo-boy, can they get annoying at times. Going back to objectively the worst track on the album, track 4, you can find some truly horrible patterns. They’re sung in a voice that comes off as if a bratty kid is delivering them, and they are so unbelievably grating that the repetition alone is enough to warrant an instant skip I see the title. Once again, it appears the worst aspects of the album are confined to a single track that’s on the shorter side of the album. Some bizarre, yet functional patterns are also noticeable on track 3: I Created God, which feel plucked right out of a Eurythmics song.
The structure of the songs and album are definitely a great feature as well. Every song ranges from 6 to 8 minutes, but never feel that way thanks to the changes in speed and riffs. While the riffs are kept to a minimum, when a track wants to kick it to the next gear and rock out with speedier ones, it absolutely does. It’s a change in flow that is not only welcome but works to keep you invested. The album’s opener and closer also work as intros and outros without resorting to cheap samples or non-musical cavalcades of laziness. Track 1 works in that it’s slow enough to get you adjusted to what this album is, with stellar vocal work and instrumentation that makes itself acquainted with you. Track 6 works in that its lyrical content as well as vocal performance acts as a drab, tragic and reserved finale to a show of horror. It’s a finale that pulls the plug at the end as well, meaning that it closes with an acoustic sound rather than mechanical. It might be cliché, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Grotesque and Inexorable has its flaws. A bit repetitive at times, a truly awful fourth track, an occasional flat sound and not to mention littered with spoken word, real-world samples meant to act as filler. However, these are not a big enough detriment to the album in my opinion. Yeah, sure, SKIP TRACK 4, but the other 5 out of 6 tracks are damn good. If you have an appetite for a graveyard atmosphere, then this album is a smorgasbord. Just for good measure, make sure you turn out the lights listening to this one, because you never know what lurks in the dark.
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