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Gurthang > Hearts of the Hollow > Reviews > Edmund Sackbauer
Gurthang - Hearts of the Hollow

Gurthang - Hearts of the Hollow - 84%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 6th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Immortal Frost Productions (Limited edition)

From the almost infinite depths of the Polish underground comes Gurthang, the next band that wants to win the favor of the audience with dark and haunting music. Even if the name Gurthang may not be known to everyone, the band has been around for a while. Besides countless EPs, compilations, etc., "Hearts of the Hollow" should be - as far as I have counted correctly - the seventh and current album. Six dark songs (plus intro and outro) are offered, often presented as classic black metal or beefed up doom, but also again and again at the crossing point between the sub-genres.

After the intro sequence the first track “Structures of Constriction” opens up with a fantastic harmony reminiscent of classic second wave stuff, but played in slower yet highly intense style. This trademark melody keeps appearing over the nearly eight minutes running time, with some adoptions and twists in the second part of the song adding further layers. Elements like ritualistic passages and more ambient sections help enhancing this deep and sinister atmosphere which Gurthang expertly drafts. In the middle we got a very hypnotic part, akin to traditional doom with the lead melody being toned down and the monotonous rhythm and the barking vocals dominating.

The music of Gurthang is the sonic equivalent of a storm to come, shadowy and oppressive with just the odd hint of light and hope shimmering through the darkness. The second song “Spasms of Reflections” starts a bit faster and is reminiscent of a more classic black metal tremolo dominated track, while other cuts and certain sections stumble slowly along an ill-light path, with manic middle parts pushing the rhythm section a bit more. One of the main reasons for the band’s success is their ability to seamlessly combine those various tempo and rhythm changes without coming across too chaotic. Pure doom as well as funeral doom can get a bit tiresome as the genre boundaries are pretty strict, but by adding those faster and blackish pieces Girthang have found a perfect way to keep the listener on his toes throughout the whole album.

The musical decay presented by the band also comes with harmonious passages, precisely making up for a multifaceted and expressive listen. Some of the leads are reminiscent of more melodic sub-genres, breaking things up a bit. That being said all in all “Hearts of the Hollow” is a vicious and evil album which winds itself ever onwards to a frenetic climax with the last full track “The Apathy of Decadence”, a statement against a world and civilization setting the wrong priorities. Words like anguish and pain come to my mind while this creepy piece of music is spinning, but in this context this should be seen as a positive. Delivered with a crushing yet diversified production this record definitely deserves some attention.