Het Belgische Gorath werkt zich de laatste jaren gestaag een weg naar de internationale (sub)top van de black metal scene. Sinds het in 2005 verschenen debuutalbum Elite groeide de band zowel compositorisch als in tekstueel opzicht met het prima The Fourth Era. Het derde volledige album Misotheism sluit eigenlijk naadloos bij zijn voorganger aan. De rode draad door het album is ketterij, vertaald in zeven Gnostische gospels – de zeven nummers op dit album. Ook in muzikaal opzicht is Gorath wederom gegroeid: de overduidelijke Satyricon-invloeden zijn iets meer gedoseerd en hebben ruimte gemaakt voor een meer eigen geluid, dat qua sfeer het laatste Watain-album goed weet te benaderen. De ruim acht minuten klokkende opener Gnosis laat al meteen goed horen waar Gorath anno 2008 voor staat: vrij complexe, diepzinnige black metal waarbij het experiment niet geschuwd wordt. Zoals ook al op The Fourth Era het geval is, doet ook hier de opbouw van de composities meerdere malen aan het latere werk van Enslaved denken. Het begin van Abufihamet, met zijn kabbelend akoestisch gitaarwerk, doet zelfs een moment aan Explosions In The Sky denken, maar dat is van korte duur, want na een kleine halve minuut knalt het nummer er goed op los. Ook het bijna tien minuten durende epos Abraxas verdient aparte vermelding. Dit nummer is wat mij betreft het hoogtepunt van het album en bevat heerlijke riffs, afwisselende zang en fraaie overgangen tussen akoestische en harde gedeeltes. Het zegt veel over de veelzijdigheid van de nummers dat deze ondanks een gemiddelde lengte van zeven minuten geen moment vervelen. Een klein minpuntje vind ik echter nog steeds de sporadisch opduikende cleane zang, die kracht mist. Dat is echter een kleine kanttekening bij een verder op alle fronten sterk en professioneel in elkaar zittend album. Laten we dan ook hopen dat dit album de erkenning krijgt die het verdient.
Thoughts of Metal
Two years ago the Belgian Black Metal formation GORATH released its second album, "The Fourth Era", which dealt with the Mayan calendar and 2012. On that album, mainman/bassist Filip Dupont created a mixture of traditional and progressive Black Metal. For the gigs he got help from his mates Zahrim (guitar) - since May replaced by Bart Put -, Geert Devenster (guitars) and Kevin De Leener (drums). This line-up (well, according to the website it was just Filip and Kevin) also created the follow-up to this highly-praised release and titled it "Misotheism". This third album is a concept about heresy throughout history, mythology, legend and lore. On this page you'll find the lyrics and liner notes about each song. Jurgen S. from THEUDHO (where Filip also used to play in) wrote the lyrics and introduction. Soundwise the famous Dan Swanö (EDGE OF SANITY, NIGHTINGALE, BLOODBATH, and many other bands) took care of the mastering. The release was set on the 16th May. With the use of real drums the songs feel of course different, fuller, rawer and more brutal. Right from the start of "Gnosis" you get instantly attacked by the blasts and slicing riffs. You can clearly hear the drums are real as Kevin sometimes has to give his all to keep up with the guitars, but that only contributes to the realness and honesty of this human input. This is the first part of the song. The second one offers a great contrast and is something totally unexpected, yet wonderfully implemented and fits in the concept without any problems: gregorian chanting introducing a very peaceful accoustic-guitar-driven interlude. This last for a few tens of second, after which the ferocious assault continues. Filip's vocals aren't as shrieking as one would expect, but he grunts more. The screaming is saved for later, when the music is flowing more. The accoustic guitar returns around 05:40 to complement the heaviness that still goes on. One minute later there's a dead part, at least the guitars and drums fall silent in favour of a creepy atmsophere, windy as if entering a new state of consciousness. It's like a passage to the midtempo heaviness that comes afterwards, where the lyrics are spoken in a grunting manner, backed by the music that leads the way towards the end. "Apophasis" is a tad different, in that the music comes over as Black 'n' Roll in a way. Filip again focuses on grunts, which are well done and fit the music quite well. Shrieks could be good, too, but the hoarse grunts just feel better. The chorus has a mix of grunts and clean singing, almost chanting, while a looped guitarmelody forms the main melody. Over halfway there's a drop in tempo, rebuilding towards something more direct, straight-forward. Kevin also tried to add some touches via the ride cymbal until all of a sudden the music stops. Just like that and there is still one good minute to go. In "Gnosis" the parts were connected and the transition was very smooth, while here you're faced with a gap of a few seconds, which could make you think that "Abufihamet" commences after that. The difference in heaviness and melody is enormous, the atmosphere has also been adapted to this tranquil and semi-accoustic minute of relaxation. But fear not, as the battle rages on, under the watchful eye of Baphomet? Just see the lyrics page to see what this song is about. It could be my hearing, but I have the impression the drums have been pushed a bit to the back, as the snare sounds a bit muffled/subdued and the kickdrums have been triggered, something that wasn't so noticeable before. Grunts in the verses, grunts and clean in the chorus. Kevin also uses his cymbals a lot (crash, ride, china, ...). Although here as well Filip tried to compose a song with fluctuations between harsh, blasting parts and slower, flowing ones, "Abufihamet" is difficult to swallow, the stay focused. You could say it's because of the music itself, but I fear the production also plays a role. There's lots of aggression and violent stuff here, but it just isn't as interesting as the previous two songs. In my opinion. "Sophia" is the shortest track, with its 2 and a half minutes. No heavy guitars, no blasting drums, no grunts or shrieks. Instead you get a dark and mysterious atmosphere with drumsamples like heartbeats, increasing in loudness. A computerized voice speaks the words of destruction, of obliteration and annihilation. You can't really say it's a song, so as listening material it doesn't have much value. In the context of "Misotheism" its role is of course clearer. Somehow this reminded me of similar interludes like GAMMA RAY's "Induction" and DRACONIAN's "Expostulation". Speaking of the battle, "Metempsychosis" is a song where this expression fits better when you read the description on GORATH's website (see link above). No specific blasting at first, but normal drumming, although Kevin does make it as diverse as possible by adding accents and playing with the tempo. The typical blasting cannot be forgotten, especially not in such a song. Filip's voice sounds as if in agony or possessed. Although the song lasts for almost six minutes, it's over before you know it. Still, this is another step in the right direction, and things improve particularly in the last two tracks. "Abraxas" is about the god of good and evil, of creation and destruction, in short, of balance. The song commences with chanting and screams to build up the tension. Midtempo Black Metal is what you get, but the elements of sadness, depression, feeling lost are definitely present. The harsh vocals also contribute to this kind of mental state. Add some cleaner vocals from someone who seems to go crazy and the picture is complete. Around 04:20 everything falls silent with just the bass guitar left. Tom accents and gentle guitarwork sets in soon after that, evolving into an accoustic Jazzy piece. Surprising, but very nice. Little by little Kevin's drumming increases in power and the whole atmosphere of devastating madness, sadness, tristesse fills the room once more. Musically I did for a moment think of NOVEMBERS DOOM "Not The Strong", off the band's "To Welcome The Fade" album. The last tale to be told is that of the "Sicarii", a political activist group operating in Judea in the first century whose task it was to get rid of the Roman occupation. The song also deals with how Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, a members of the Sicarii. This is the shortest (08:14) of the 3 long songs, which are at least 8 minutes long. The beginning is an instant blast asault. Everything about this song screams aggression, violence, hatred, betrayal and more. Think BEHEMOTH, KEEP OF KALESSIN and similar, which is nothing but pure quality. If my short-term memory doesn't fail me, then this is the fastest song on this album. Filip still grunts, but vocally also screams/yells, which justifies the comparison with KEEP OF KALESSIN even more. Samples of knights and activists fighting help bring the story to life. The production is very good, leaving a very realistic sound on the instruments and especially on the drums. The flow of the music is very well composed: furious, calmer but still aggressive and back to raging as the fighting and betrayal are taking place. This is outstanding work and without any doubt one of the best, if not the best, song on "Misotheism". One of the great things about Metal is not only the music, obviously, but also the intelligence of the musicians themselves and their interests in history. There have been many bands on whose releases Metal was used to educate people (REBELLION, STORMWARRIOR, AMASEFFER, NILE, CRYSTALLION, JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH, etc...). GORATH also contributed with "The Fourth Era" (Mayas and 2012), which was a very good and highly praised album. This time mastermind Filip Dupont tackled a new subject (with the help of Jurgen S.) and successfully implemented the material into the music. If you want qualitative ànd intelligent Black Metal (I'm not saying Black Metal contains no intelligence, just that it doesn't always have to be about the cliché themes), then I highly recommend "Misotheism", for this Belgian band has made another big step forward.
Gorath used to be a Belgium one-man black metal band, but after the release of the previous album the project formed into a real band. The band has been working hard to get their name out ever since, and now the new record Misotheism sees the light of day; their third effort and their second for Descent Productions. The seven tracks on this record are all reasonably lengthy and feature quite a modern black metal sound just like the previous effort. Misotheism has a clear and aggressive production (executed by the legend Dan Swanö) and a diverse sound. While the overall gimmick of this band is to bash away with modern black metal riffs, the band doesn't just stick to one sound. Fast passed riffs are alternated with slower riffs and occasionally the band throws in a musical intermezzo that one wouldn't expect from an average black metal record. Misotheism has some great hooks and angles that keep you on your toes. For the fans of new school black metal, Gorath must surely be a worthy addition to the scene. It has enough diversity to keep the listener's attention, yet it doesn't stray too much from the path to hell. Watch out for this demon on the rise!