Album Review: Gormenghast – Resist or Serve
Origin: Ekaterinburg, Russia
Release: March, 2012
Label: Stygian Crypt Productions
Style: Death Metal
Apparently named after a fictional castle from a series of fantasy books by English author Mervyn L. Peake, the Gormenghast under our scrutiny is a no-nonsense Death Metal outfit from the Russian city of Ekaterinburg. The now five-headed, but four-headed at the time of recording – band has been active since 2008 and has released its debut record through Stygian Crypt Records earlier this year.
Resist or Serve is an album offering dark, hellish Death Metal, much in the vein of the old school. That means blast beats, crunchy and chunky guitars and completely incomprehensible vocals.
The record features thirteen tracks, spanning over 38 minutes, but some of these can hardly be called songs. More like short snippets of atmospheric intermissions, often with acoustic guitars and ambient noises. Subtracting these, leaves us with nine songs and about 36 minutes of Death Metal.
One of which is Environment. Features a lovely ‘forging weapons in hell’ section around the halfway marker.
Gormenghast’s debut is exactly original or anything you haven’t heard before, but those that can’t get enough of the relentless punishment brought forth by your average old school Death Metal should be pleased. The band’s axework isn’t particularly technical but it still beats the majority of its peers. Guitarist Alexander Volkov mixes up tremolo picked slurs of notes (often on top of chopping blast beats) with the more chugging type of playing. He has a dual role to play on this record, as he’s the only guitarist credited on the album, yet there are at least two guitar lines to be heard most of the time, sometimes two rhythm guitars, sometimes a solo and a bunch of riffing.
A much heard critique from my part as of late, bassist Ivan Tarasenko is audible, but still a bit soft and gentle. A fuller, richer mix could have made a huge difference here, potentially up to the point where Mr. Volkov wouldn’t have had to play two scores of guitar work. Regardless, Tarasenko does his job well, not only providing the heavy accents and rhythm, but also working through subtle fillings of higher pitched bass notes, such as in Winter.
Anatoly Kompanets is responsible for drums and seems a capable sort of chap. Once again the mix isn’t too dynamic, rather flat in fact, but the sometimes subtle, sometimes groovy accentuations he stirs through his efforts are refreshing and a welcome change from the solid dose of blast beating he’s also capable of. As far as those are concerned, the man seems to be on a balancing act, as he sometimes makes it seem like his fierce rolls are at the brink of stalling. It makes for a strange sort of stress and urgency in the music that reinforces the many moments of fear and despair that is often the governing atmosphere.
Leaves us with just one dude untouched: vocalist Valery Negrutsa. The man is a growler, up to a level where it’s about to get ridiculous. Meaning he bellows deep, his guttural noises coming from all the way down. The fact that it’s totally impossible to follow what he’s going on about – although it is possible to catch an occasional word; “sophicated”, “dead”, “emptiness” – I think. In other words, it helps to get the booklet out. If you think it really matters what the dude is grunting on about.
Resist to Serve isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but that’s more due to the atmosphere it breaths – not a friendly one – than due to the album not being of high quality. The Russians lay down an ample musical basis and even though Negrutsa’s vocals are generally a bit too much for my personal liking, the instrumental efforts make them very bearable. In fact, there’s a good deal of reinforcing action going on. Leaves me with the comment about the mix, which isn’t particularly optimal – though not below average either. The old school Death Metal fan won’t even mind.
My Grade: 7.5/10
Buy this when:
- you still live the old school
- atmospheres that remind of the gates of hell opening are just your cup of tea