RSS Feed

Beyond Death

Hells Headbangers (2015)
Rating: 8.5/10

Under the influence of catchy, lo-fi old school death metal comes Norwegian duo Gouge. Beyond Death is the debut album from Christoffer Bråthen (vocals, guitar, bass) and Herman Holen (drums).

For a band that only began life in 2011 this is one excellent opus that is all too keen to pay homage to a time when death metal was only just beginning to emerge from the cracks, so to some extent we’re thinking of the musical form in its rawest incarnation; early Death, Possessed, Death Strike, Master, et al delivered with enough fiendish quality to have you thinking that this was actually recorded around 1984, such is its raw, primeval intensity.

Okay, so maybe it could be argued that it’s betraying its roots by not being “European” sounding; after all, the likes of Obliteration, Lantern and Omnizide have churned out some truly raucous yet cavernous Euro death metal, so why would a band from the snowy climes of the world want to sound so American? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, when one considers that some of Norway’s most formidable bands started out as remote, lo-fi death metal acts influenced by the American gods. As I always say, if it’s executed in the right manner then there’s no reason to moan, and Gouge’s debut record is one that should appeal to anyone who likes that real foetid death metal odour that eventually went on to coat such miserable yet classic efforts from Autopsy and the likes.

The music is played mostly fast and has a watery, gruesome feel, especially in the vocal vomits of Bråthen whose dry, gore-soaked coughs immediately give the record that primitive, old school feel. Musically, the band are pretty much a speedy no frills affair, opting for thrashier climes with their death-grind – with foul essences of Repulsion and the grindier tinges of the scene. I love the fact that the press release for this album describes Gouge’s sound as “gross” and “gutsfucking” and those two words goes a long way to describing this chaotic manifestation. The likes of ‘Putrefaction’ could well have been ripped from Death’s classic Scream Bloody Gore (1987), while ‘Breath Of The Reaper’ owes more to old school German thrash in its cutting execution and black thrash frenzy.

Gouge is not merely reliant of decrepit bouts of indecipherable speed, but this is the main formula for their gross cacophony. Indeed, the likes of ‘Malady Macabre’, and ‘Butcher Attack’ are unrelenting doses of speed. For some truly morbid mid-tempo droning, I have to recommend the initial dreary doom of ‘Blood Feast’ and the equally morose gore fumes of ‘Uncontrollable Madness’; although these are quick to evolve into an act of bludgeoning, it’s mouldy death metal you cannot live without.

There is no point in marking Gouge down for their eagerness to replicate the 80s death metal legends, because this is clearly what they’ve set out to do and succeeded in spitting out a truly brilliant debut album of fusty speed.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Album & EP Reviews

Related Posts via Categories