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Goldenseed > The Astral Hologram > Reviews
Goldenseed - The Astral Hologram

Do I Want This Illusion in My Collection? - 66%

bayern, April 2nd, 2019

I’m not too sure; rather not… I use to collect compelling, hard to attain illusions, and this one seems too ordinary, and not only by its creator’s standards. Cause Gabriele Pala, the only performer in the Goldenseed camp, was capable of much more interesting “foci” in the past. His illusionist’s arsenal hasn’t been irredeemably depleted obviously, but at this stage it doesn’t seem to generate the same level of awe and excitement.

Starting with the excellent progressive thrash/death metal beast “Creatures of the Sea”, an album that was a more or less faithful extension of the style of his previous act Karnak, in 1999 the man showed quite a bit of ambition with adventurous song-writing and bold compositional decisions those culminating to some extent on the surreal avant-garde sophomore, a difficult to define work of twisted, not easy to absorb art that has attracted both sworn admirers and tireless detractors through the years. Then Pala gave way to his axeman abilities with “The War Is in My Mind”, an all-instrumental shredding compilation which didn’t contain anything too eye-opening.

The album reviewed here goes back to the vocal-guided patterns, but the music on offer follows more conventional modern progressive metal trajectories, sounding like something that could have come out of the hands of Devin Townsend, for instance. In other words, this effort can’t be a total throwaway and may also please fans of Coroner’s “Grin” and Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warrior’s 90’s project Apollyon Sun. Creepy minimalistic stuff which main flaw is that it throws this pervasive cloak of monotony too early as once the main delivery has been introduced with the atmospheric brooder “Sudden Culture” it seldom deviates from this not inordinately exciting formula, a slow to mid-tempo parade with irregular bouts of jarring more dynamic riffage and more regular stretches towards the doomy field (“Directors of the Earth”) this latter application also recalling another work of Warrior, Celtic Frost’s “Monotheist”. More uplifting funky/jazzy jam sessions (“Memories from Another Time”, “The Pyramids Grid”) are invariably stirred, and they carry the biggest eccentric charge with Pala displaying his more adventurous side without radically altering the chosen formula. Actually, it may be these sporadic exhibitions of musical audacity that may annoy the listener as their inclusion only exacerbates the setting, with the general lack of such interesting moments emphasized on, intentionally or not. The marginally more intense rhythmic bounces on “The Gammadion Cross” may pass for some of those, and perhaps the more vividly, more neurotically executed title-track, but wading through the not very perturbed balladic soundscapes of “Arctic Secret” and the discordant rock-ish vaudeville served on “Final Extinction” would be a nerve-testing experience for those who have spent days listening to the man’s first two instalments.

Pala changes his vocal approach to a mean-ish semi-declamatory baritone resembling Tom G. Warrior time and again, merging with the not very demanding musical scenery to the point that sometimes it wouldn’t be very easy for one to clearly acknowledge his participation behind the mike. His guitar work, though, makes waves on regular bases the man seldom going out with all the bizarre guns blazing, but making sure no one remains untouched by his admirable axeman skills. The latter are again not really necessary as the delivery simply doesn’t require any embellishments, but on the other hand without them carving more stylish burrows into the canvas this opus would have been too gloomy and too one-dimensional to sit through.

A personal, introspective recording? Not quite; the preceding album was already one with Pala showing his guitar talents to the fullest, reducing all other previous ingredients to the minimum. A different path started? Possibly although I’m not sure why the man has decided to settle for this anti-flashy performance having in mind the unpredictable volatile, perennially shape-shifting character of his first two albums… as an isolated stint, though, this opus works as it’s another example of Pala not repeating himself, surprising the fanbase with new tools of expression utilized on each subsequent offering. Taking a break by at the same time keeping his weapon(s) honed? Yep, that must be it; cause I don’t want to think even remotely that one of the most intrepid artists on Italian soil would keep churning samey anti-climactic tributes to the modern progressive metal roster… the golden seeds that have been planted some time ago are yet to come to full fruition.