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G.U.T. > My Only Drug Is Madness > Reviews > Perplexed_Sjel
G.U.T. - My Only Drug Is Madness

Home Of The Hardcore. - 55%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 18th, 2009

Avant-gardé of any kind is an acquired taste, like caviar, but the avant-gardé, and post-black movements are amongst the most surreal sub-genres you’ll hear. Often, the main aim of the former genre is to keep the traditional black metal elements as quiet as possible, whilst experimental soundscapes startle the audience with unique meticulous methods that purge most, if not all of the old traditions. It’s obvious from the get-go that G.U.T., a Norwegian one man band, are one of this aforementioned types that aim to eradicate most of the black metal from their quirky, off-the-beaten-path structures. I think this creation, from the mad mind of Solefald’s Cornelius von Jackhelln, is amongst the most strange bands to ever participate within these sub-genres of metal. However, though the descriptions suggest they’re an experimental electronically influenced black metal band, I personally find the music far too weird to be classified as one particular style, especially considering it heavily incorporates electronica into the structures. From the unusual ‘Home of the Hardcore’, which can barely be considered metal, to the cover of Darkthrone’s classic hit, ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, which is a far cry from the original.

Whilst not being overly familiar with Soledad (having only heard one record a few times a number of years ago), or the types of madness that ensues whenever Cornelius von Jackhelln is present, I had no expectations of this record but as with only a few unique minds, I’m sure no matter what I had expected, this debut would have completely dissolved all of those emotions with the bone crunching opening to the electronically driven ‘Balkanized in Belgrade’. There are a number of strange qualities to this song, as well as the others, which made me sit up and take notice. The instrumentation isn’t easy to digest. It’s incredibly diverse and welcomes as many odd sounds to the party as possible. Leaning towards industrial music, even hinting at small influences from genres outside of metal like electronica and jazz, G.U.T. waste no time in confusing the audience with it’s creativity and diversity, which mars the direction of the record, which is unclear throughout. From one song to another, the record doesn’t fail to deviate at every given opportunity. A lot of the songs present could be argued to exist separately from the metal scene, such as songs like ‘Home of the Hardcore’, which exhibits an upbeat electronic base that eliminates most, if not all of the metal traditions.

Perhaps apart from the vocals, another element which doesn’t fail to deviate throughout, no one element can be tied down in association with metal and even then, the lyrics are surprisingly mainstream friendly. Forget all your experience and knowledge of the avant-gardé black metal scene because it will not be needed here, as the Darkthrone cover suggests. Opening with a very synthetic feel, given the wholly electronic base for the drums and guitar effects, this cover is the most challenging one I have heard to date simply because of its passion for incorporating electronica into all the aspects of the instrumentation apart from the vocals, but even then, this cover incorporates clean female vocals into the mix. This is the only song on the entire record that truly utilises a black metal styled rasp from the male vocalist and though it is nowhere as convincing as the original, it is a damn sight better than the ridiculous rapped vocals on the next song, which sets the opinion of this record back to the beginning, a new all-time low for the aesthetically and conceptually weird ‘My Only Drug Is Madness’ - a very fitting title for this oddity. The duelled vocals are actually a nice touch and vastly different from anything else I have ever heard.

One thing Cornelius von Jackhelln cannot be accused of is lacking creativity and the vision to attempt something new which hasn’t been experienced before. This cover, despite the synthetic vibe given off by the overused programming, is one of the best I’ve heard. Simply because it was so unexpected. Good, clean production and a seriousness that is lacking on most other songs on the record. Personally, I am not a huge fan of “fun” records and this is one that certainly fits well into that context. The jovial, fun-loving nature of the record comes out in almost all areas because it is unbelievably experimental, as shown on songs like ‘Représailles à Versailles’. Unfortunately, this “fun” aspect ridicules itself and sets a confusing pace, with a direction that isn’t clear throughout - a fact compounded by the unusual cover of Darkthrone’s classic which, despite being good, draws a lot of questions over its inclusion. This fun-loving style also hampers the progress of the record when it does offer something worth analysing more than once. Songs like ‘Mastur Bator’, although mildly amusing lyrically, beg the question of this records intended purpose as it doesn’t seem to have one. It drifts from the mildly amusing stakes of this song and beyond into obscured mediocrity as the electronic base becomes less and less accessible to the fragile metal mind which cannot take too much of a different thing.

Unlike the progression of bands like Ulver, who went from black metal masterminds to electronic explorers, G.U.T. languish between the comic and unfortunate. All elements are placed in compromised positions because of the overwhelming electronic feel. Besides the string sections, the traditional noteworthy sections have gone missing in action. As I mentioned before, the wildness that is this record has a habit of backfiring on itself as it is just too weird. The rapped vocals are atrocious, but the synths that are projected alongside it save aforementioned songs from being completely useless. The female vocals are a good touch, though they cannot save all songs and tragedies like ‘The Beauty & The Bitch’ are lost on me. The lyrics, once again, are ludicrous and sprinkled in between what sounds like poppy-dance music intertwined with darkwave soundscapes, though the keyboard solo (which oddly reminds me of the band Sigh), is the only decent aspect of this otherwise lacklustre song. I’m afraid, this record is largely inaccessible to me and I can’t imagine hardcore black metal fans being pleased with this wrongly tagged band.