Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ghoulgotha - Prophetic Oration of Self [2014] (EP)


Though it is often the unreasonable and obnoxious longevity of songs that puts off a listener, I can assure you that exuding length and substituting it with truncated versions of the same gestalt will not always assure a rise in quality. Exhibit no. 8762: Ghoulgotha. The Californian quartet, after assembling a demo, have once again tilted their heads downward into the caverns and skull-filled fissures of pre-1994 death metal in an EP, complete with all its gory, downtrodden aesthetics. In today's metal world where even the most memorable records are merely ephemeral epitaphs that last longer than a couple of months in the minds of a ravenous audience, I certainly cannot understand the urgency to manufacture more and more of the same kind, and the penchant to release demos and EPs as rapidly as a factory popping out a thousand drones a minute. People don't seem to be well-acquainted with the term ''generic'', which is funny because it's precisely what they're doing. But enough small talk, you'll just have to make the decision yourself after hearing the EP...

''Prophetic Oration of Self'' (yet another airy and philosophic title for a musical effort that seems to exemplify the daily actions of an average neanderthal) is just two tracks across, with the title track and opener clocking at a surprising (or should I not be surprised?) 9 minutes and the conclusion piece at a meager 4 minutes. Granted, it takes no genius to weed through the skulls and bones and point out the major culprits behind this morbid bulwark. Ghoulgotha overlay elements of doom and death, so you'll be hearing a ton of Incantation, Autopsy, Winter and Cianide, and although this seems like a reconciliation for the absence of dull, mechanic Swedeath grinders in the style of a more ubiquitously embraced Entombed, Unleashed or Grave, the music itself is nothing if not monotonous, even monomaniacal in its singular pursuit of morbid, ominous and bantering drudgery.  I try hard not to call it dull, but more often than not that seems to be the outcome of the huge, meaty guitars and their trudging pace. The pacing does vary of course. Sometimes the band will just melt into a more straightforward onslaught of bulging tremolos with double-bass drums and snare-cymbal abuse galore. Yes, the EP is not all drudgery; even if the entire 13 minutes of run time seem to be completely devoid of any expansive characteristics - despite trying oh so very hard to create a genuinely moody atmosphere - there are a few moments, like the first forty seconds or so of the opener, which are relatively satisfying feasts of rotten flesh and blood among the decaying whole, if not like emeralds in a sea of zircons.

What is perhaps peculiar but necessarily entertaining about Ghoulgotha's take on death/doom in the ghastly melody staccatos which they spray randomly across the two songs. The eerie, dissonant thrill that two worn guitars harmonizing with each other is coupled with a set of gnarly, low vocals that would have fit any other band of this sort just fine. Now let's get to the point. Ghoulgotha is no way near being a maverick in the genre, with so many outfits already practicing and perfecting the Incantation-brand old school death metal, let alone being iconoclasts. As far as morals go, the big lesson I learned was that cavemen don't make good orators, although their kind seems to populate the profession in particular, but that's for another day. What comes out as appreciation for this record is my admiration for how wholeheartedly and endearing the band elopes its music, aping or not. As slipshod a performance this may have been, there is no disparity between the band members, nor any idiotic elitism, so really, what more could old schoolers ask for? This is just one piece of a flotilla of thousands, bound to be marooned at sea, so just blast out the damn thing and be over with it.


Highlights:
Prophetic Oration of Self

Rating: 60%

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