Grim Observations: Gurthang/Beyond Life – Split EP (2015)

Gurthang and Beyond Life both sound like impressive acts as far as I’m concerned. The first one considers themselves a sort of blackened doom, while the other began as a dark ambient project and has since progressed into something a bit more metallic. I can deal with either at any given time and wholly support both, which definitely makes this split a must for me right from the get-go. But here’s why: First, we have the grim, nearly industrial touches of Gurthang starting us with “Illuminate” (3:45) as we roll right into the pulverizing nature of “Arise” (5:43) which also contains some notable melodies (a bit fuzzy, but I’ll bear) as well as a horrendously diabolical vocal approach. In a nutshell, it sounds quite good to me. Just the sort of dark and meaty oppression I’d hope to deliver in Torii, with the same slice of aggression. Then these guys put the other piece of bread on top of this venomous sandwich of rust and metal with “LCVI” (4:04) which pretty much says it all. These guys have been around for quite a while now and have spawned four full-lengths within that time period, so if this sounds good to you from the description – well, you might want to pick It up.

Now onto these other guys. Beyond Life sound very similar to Gurthang, but that’s not a bad thing for this disc. It gives the listener a very cohesive listen that’s easy digestible and doesn’t try to mix a folk metal act together with a slamming brutal death metal quartet. From “Psychopath’s Mind” (3:44) we can already see where this is going, with a dark electronic output from the very start. In fact, it goes great after Gurthang’s “LCVI” and just adds more inky soundscape to the recording as a whole. “Heavy Rain” (6:44) seems to delve more into their depressive suicidal black metal (DSBM) style, but for once – I mean, for once in this genre’s lifetime, there isn’t one sign of the overused and completely annoying howling that I always hear on albums. I don’t care how awesomely deep, dark and passionate your guitar melodies are; (which they really are all of those things here) there is simply nothing respectable about howling on like a banshee. As a matter of fact, I vastly prefer these female spoken word vocals to your howls. Plus, she sounds a hell of a lot more passionate among the veritable shredding here than you guys ever have. If you want to howl at the moon like a fucking dog, then do me a favor and please don’t record it. As Beyond Life have shown, there is much more that can be done with the DSBM genre without the use of a pathetic howl. Black metal wasn’t made so that you could cry and create the metal equivalent to emo rock music. That’s what Tumblr is for. Hence, my rambling has nothing to do with the opinion on what I feel is rather well-constructed and powerful album, especially if we denote the leads, which shine immensely on “The Burial Rite.” (5:24) Even “Driven By Melancholy” sounds like the kind of dreary rock influenced theme that you might hear at the end of a sad, but memorable film. Maybe it was a film about a sort of robot apocalypse or something, but there’s a scene with a diner at the end, and as the diner is showing on the screen, you’ll hear this music as the screen fades to black. It just feels like a song of reminiscence. It’s much better than Opeth’s “Ending Credits” I feel.

In the end, I feel that Melodies Of Sorrow is a tremendously fine split EP for those looking for something that’s a little grim, a little deep and a bit passionate as well. There shouldn’t be anything here that will turn you off, unless you’re not into depressing music. At least there’s no goddamned howls to be found anywhere on this disc, and for that I’m thankful.

(7 Tracks, 35:00)

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