If this song is anything to go by, then I’m really looking forward to the new Awooga album, released on Friday 20 April 2018.
Written and performed by Goya. Recorded at Tremolo Recording Studio, Staffordshire, England, UK. Mixed by Dan Rowley and Goya. Mastered by Sam Taylor. Artwork by Sam Taylor. Released 8 December 2017.
- Jason Kester—Guitar
- Sam Taylor—Bass
- Mark Connolly—Drums
- Collider (4:02)
- Venenatus (13:05)
- Ashoka (7:39)
- Kathmandu (7:35)
I’ve been sitting on a number of releases for the last few months while the craziness of my personal life gently explodes around me. In a moment of relative calm I decided to take a listen to this EP, released by Goya a couple of months ago.
Flippin’ ‘eck it’s good! So good, in fact, that I’ve listened to it at least eight times in the last few weeks.
Goya are a three-piece instrumental group from Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands (England, UK) and Kathmandu is their first EP. It’s what guitarist Jase Kester describes as the band’s “initial musical statement”. And what a statement! Not least that the whole EP was recorded live, with all three musicians interacting with one another in the same room. There is no substitute for such chemistry.
“We’ve tried to take all the things that we love about rock—the riffs, rhythms and sounds, the building blocks and devices—strip away some things that we feel have become clichés of the genre, in an attempt to create ‘absolute music’,” he said in an interview.
The idea of absolute music—or abstract music—developed at the end of the the 18th century. It’s the idea that music is not explicitly about anything, and that “instrumental music transcends other arts and languages to become the discourse of a ‘higher realm'”. It was the belief that music could be more emotionally powerful and stimulating without words.
“Collider” (track 1) is built around two riffs that seem to call and answer one another. It’s a bouncy, upbeat song that you can’t but nod along to. It’s a simple post-rock track that kicks things off nicely but it doesn’t give too much away of what is to come.
“Venenatus” (track 2) which is Latin for venomous is a 13-minute epic. It may not be poisonous but it’s definitely infectious. The track opens with a delicate guitar piece that playfully rises and falls like a children’s piano piece. Then about a minute in (see the video below) it changes direction completely into a crushingly heavy, doom-laden riff that slices its way through the next few minutes before returning to its delicate roots.
The track seemingly has a life of its own. From its fragile, pseudo-classical intro, through the Sabbath-like darkness, the stark bass and drums-only section, to a decidedly up-tempo movement, a section of feedback, and an acoustic outro that was entirely improvised during the recording session. It’s a prog-lover’s dream.
“Ashoka” (track 3) is built around a simple three-note riff that evolves and revolves around a bass heartbeat. The track has both a sense of urgency and mournfulness. Around six and a half minutes in, the music gradually slows and dissolves into distortion and white noise.
The final and title track “Kathmandu” (track 4) brings the EP to a beautiful conclusion. It begins in a quiet, contemplative way; it sounds how I imagine it would be to hear the sun rising in the morning. A few minutes in a bass line drives the song through a few twists and turns until the rather distinctive outro in 6/4 time.
This is a really beautifully crafted EP. It has something for everyone: fragile and delicate guitar, thundering bass lines, crushing doom-filled riffs. This is absolute music—bring your own meaning—and it is absolutely gorgeous. The music speaks to me regardless of my mood: at times invigorating, at times mournful.
In places it reminds me of early Amplifier (a very good thing), and Shutter (a former prog/post rock style band from Inverness); but it always sounds vibrant and… well, without trying to be too pretentious, human. There is an honesty about this music that somehow makes it feel like it’s been the soundtrack to my life that I’ve not heard until now.
If this is Goya’s “initial musical statement”, I am all ears for whatever comes next.
Review score: 98%
Self-released. Release date Monday 19 February 2018
- Bear—Guitars and vocals
- Intro (instrumental)
- Through smoke, comes fire
Hailing from Bournemouth, at the south end of the island, crawls Thuum with their debut EP Through Smoke, Comes Fire and it is colossal. This is already promising to be the heaviest release of 2018.
Thuum are firmly lodged in the doom, sludge, southern-groove genre and they own it. Within four tracks Thuum manage to say more and generate more excitement than many bands with two or three times as many tracks.
“Intro (instrumental)” (track 1) opens gradually, a fade up from silence. A quiet drone and a primitive-sounding chant, overplayed by a bell-like, heavily-reverbed guitar punching out a melody. And then the granite-crushing power of the track truly unleashes. It is slow and grinding but damn is it heavy and beautiful.
“Worthless” (track 2) is a powerhouse of southern-infused sludge metal. Slowly meandering, bass-heavy riffs and sorrowful guitar solos provide a perfect background to Bear’s growling vocals. If you’re a fan of Down and Corrosion of Conformity you will not be disappointed. They’re like a fusion of Down and Mastodon—Mastodown, if you will.
“Hafgufa” (track 3) begins with a blast of drums. then the pace is quickened for a song that winds itself around a simple, bouncing riff, that starts and stops, but never stops its unrelenting pace and heaviness. The song is cut in two with another lamenting guitar solo. “Can you hear me shouting out his name?” Bear yells—it’s reminiscent of Mastodon’s Troy Sanders. It may be the shortest song on the EP but it sure as hell packs a punch.
“Through smoke, comes fire” (track 4). The title track. Another drums opening, which feels like a gentle nod of the head to Bonham’s drum sound in Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks”. A ponderous, bass-heavy riff builds and layers for a minute until it breaks down into an ascending, walking riff. This is truly majestic. A fusion of influences, progressive and doom, always heavy but never indulgent or aggressive. Then vocals, both growling and howling. It reminded me a lot of Mastodon’s album Leviathan. The tracks meanders through a melodic, harmonic progression to a gentle conclusion.
Wow! This is a near-perfect debut EP. I truly hope Thuum get the attention they deserve. This is precision crafted doom/sludge metal from the deep south (of England). I want to hear more. If through smoke, comes fire, I want to see what truly happens when the fire takes hold. Definitely a band to take notice of and follow over the next few years.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m going to give this 24 minutes 39 seconds offering another spin.
Review score: 98%
Stampede Press UK contacted me a few weeks back, inviting me to preview this EP.
I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Thuum. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review—which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and Thuum.
Triptykon, Thomas Gabriel’s musical home post-Celtic Frost is one powerful band.
Shatter, from the Shatter EP, is an amazing slab of heavy, experimental metal very much in the vein of Celtic Frost. I could (and have) listen to this track on repeat for hours.
This is one of my favourite music videos ever.
I felt so sad today learning of the untimely and sudden death yesterday of Martin Eric Ain, the former bassist of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. He was only 50 years old, and reportedly died of a heart attack.
Celtic Frost were arguably the first metal band that I really got into as a teenager. Every time I visited a record store I would always, always look for something from Celtic Frost. In part to try to find something rare (I never did), but in part to determine the quality of the store: if they had any Celtic Frost albums then I judged it to be a good store.
Twenty-two years after getting into them, I finally got to see Celtic Frost play live in Glasgow in 2007, they were co-headlining with Kreator. It was a year before they split up again. That was one of the most memorable concerts that I’ve been to. It was an event.
I feel honoured to have seen Ain play live, to have seen Celtic Frost play live.
There was clearly a complex relationship between Tom G Warrior and Martin Eric Ain through the years. A push-pull relationship. Something that came up again recently in a post on Thomas Gabriel Fischer’s blog, “Mammon’s inexorable temptation” where he lamented what Ain was doing with Celtic Frost’s heritage, selling off old kit on a Facebook page.
I was sad when Celtic Frost ended. Monotheist was a brutal album. It was very different from their 80s albums—it was more raw, darker, more nihilistic. And it didn’t feature their famous sounds-like-a-vacuum-cleaner guitar tone. I was hoping for more new music.
No new music ever came from the Fischer/Ain partnership, although I have loved what Thomas Gabriel Fischer went on to create with Triptykon.
Rest in peace Martin.
This is wonderful!
From the new Taylor Hawkins album ‘KOTA’.
If you’re not already following Rob Scallon on YouTube, then get there right now and subscribe. He knows how to play some heavy, heavy music.