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Goldenseed > Creatures of the Sea > Reviews > bayern
Goldenseed - Creatures of the Sea

Planting the Seeds of the Progressive Roman Empire - 92%

bayern, February 20th, 2017

I discovered this band merely a month after I dug out Garden Wall, the progressive metal masters, and I had no choice but to proclaim the Land of the former Roman Empire as the definitive gold mine for serious engaging, multi-layered metal in the late-90s’/early-00’s. For the existence of Goldenseed we have to thank Gabriele Palla, a founding member and a guitar player of the Italian progressive/technical death metal wizards Karnak. The man simply wanted to find other ways of expression outside his main band, and he planted new creative “seeds” out of which grew this very interesting outfit.

Palla is responsible for everything here, no help from other musicians, and he has “cooked” a most tasteful multi-faced opus to the progressive metal lovers’ delight. The listener has to brace him/herself for some really weird music, though, one which goes way beyond the intricate deathy jazzisms of Karnak. “Barbaric Hordes Upcoming” starts as an industrial extravaganza recalling mid-period Malhavoc (“Release”, “Punishments”) including in the whispering “vocal” department, with hard thrashing rhythms creeping onward, with melodic symphonic, keyboard-ornated sweeps and virtuous melodic leads breaking their stride at every opportunity. The keyboard ornaments also recall the works of their renowned compatriots Sadist, and “Seas of Chaos” accentuates on those melodic gimmicks by blending progressive death metal with rigorous thrash and symphonic blacky escapades this concoction receiving another great boost by the amazing lead sections. “Creatures of the Underworld” is a surreal shredder with a most unorthodox “marriage” between keyboards and guitars both sides taking care of a particular musical motif without considering the other instrument’s contribution consequently creating quite a bit of beautiful atmospheric “chaos” the latter nicely enhanced by bombastic symphonic dissonances.

“Sevenfold Thy Heaven” shreds in a creepy minimalistic fashion with gorgeous leads falling from all sides (Palla should get a medal for those) in a logical, carefully calculated way, including on the several operatic black metal cascades ala The Kovenant’s “Nexus Polaris”. “The Ruins of Atlantis (Part II)” is 3-min of serene acoustic balladisms the awakening coming in the form of “The Awakening”, a hyper-active symphonic masterpiece which more sterile riffage crosses Sadist’s “Crust” with Atheist’s “Elements”, the jazzy breaks in the middle also reminding of Palla’s main band. “The Majestic Wave” is a violent progressiver with very hectic time and tempo shifts the madness put under control by the next in line melodic blacky “symphony” mid-way, but only for a short bit as the insane scratchy riff-patterns resume their “duels” with full force in the second half. “Subconscious Contemplation” begins with an imposing keyboard stroke the keyboards later “fighting” with the guitars for the creation of several breath-taking melodic soundscapes those supported by unobtrusive technical death/thrashing, “the idyll” never leaving the mid-paced confines wrapped in futuristic industrial miasma.

Palla produces quite “a beast” here, one that can pass for the first genuine extreme progressive metal recording with a very capable mixture of several styles, pretty much one-of-a kind at the time. The man manages to steer away from the delivery of his other outfit for most of the time although Karnak’s approach is nothing to shy away from as the guys have been one of the finest practitioners on the scene of the past twenty years. It seamlessly combines industrial and symphonic elements echoing The Kovenant’s “Animatronic” released the same year by keeping its aggressive character all the way. The co-existence of black and death metal has been served for the second time in such a convincing manner, after the Finns Nomicon’s “Yellow” (1997), probably the ultimate merger of the two genres under the technical/progressive banner. Palla achieves uncanny sinister atmosphere, intentionally or not, with the scratchy jarring guitar formulas which always “lurk” in the background remaining hidden, attracting the subconscious with their macabre ephemeral presence. Having written that, this is not the most riff-driven recording out there as the keyboards play a very prominent role, and the supreme lead guitar work would have stolen the riffs’ thunder on any other album. Again, Palla should be very proud of himself as his pyrotechnics can put him on the Shrapnel pedestal any time.

Musical bizarreness reaches new dimensions on the follow-up “Collector of Illusions” which appeared whole eight years later due to Palla’s engagements with Karnak and other projects. It was well worth the wait although the death and black metal fanbase should run away, and fast. Those two genres are very sparsely covered giving way to more orchestral variations, ambience, dissonance, atonality, funky jazzisms, balladic serenities and all kinds of other tools from the quirky “circus”. It would take much longer for one to absorb this larger-than-life opera, but those with the ear for the highly unusual will find their new favourite here. Palla had nothing more to prove in the field of original, innovative metal after this album, and he followed up with a much more introspective, more melodic all-instrumental progressive metal/rock opus (“The War is in My Mind”, 2012) where he concentrated on his shredding skills.

He is still around with Goldenseed, reportedly not anymore with Karnak (that’s a pity…), but he is keeping himself busy with other formations like the progressive metallers Azure Agony, the excellent technical thrash newcomers Born Again, and the black metal outfit Evil Lucifera. There’s no rest for the wicked, as they say; once the seeds for a new “empire” have been planted, the “emperor” has to make sure they bear the expected “fruit”.