Trent Yakamaoka

Nov. 25, 2015


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Gurthang started as a one-man death/doom project by one A.Z.V., before delving into blacker territories and growing a few members in size. Similarly, Beyond Life evolved from a solo dark ambient project into a full group melding a variety of disparate styles. Do I hear the Brady Bunch theme song coming on? In any case, this resulting split is a unique atmospheric experience that took me by surprise on one foggy morning drive to work. The perfect setting for these tunes.

The overall mood of this album is pretty consistent, but the two sides do have a different stylistic take to get the job done. I'll begin with Gurthang. Both "Illuminate" and "LCVI" sound like Nine Inch Nails and Akira Yakamaoka collaborating on an instrumental industrial doom project. Plent of crunchy, repetetive guitar lines, hypnotic drum patterns, and purposefully scratchy production. Simple, but effective; not unlike a spritual successors to Broken's "Pinion."

"Arise is decidedly more aggressive. This track features some heavily distorted, nihilistic-sounding vocals that reminded me of Mindless Faith. Both drums and guitar compliment the assault with some extra oomph of their own. Squealing hooks and pounding kick drums violate the reverb-heavy recording space. Again, this was perfect music for driving through a murky morning mist.

Beyond Life take on the remaining four tracks with a similar, but slightly different approach. It still feels like Reznor working on a Silent Hill soundtrack, but this time the tracks are more focused on ambience. Rythmic drumming and guitar have been replaced with pulsating synthetic soundscapes. "A Psychopath's Mind" could not be a better title for this spiral into madness. The screeching strings that start things off alone mark the sound of a mind breaking.

There are still some leftover uses of guitar to be found as well. "Heavy Rain" and the "Burial Rite" wrap the thick atmosphere in a veil of slow, reverberating funeral doom picking. Leads on the former eventually build into a firey psychodelic, Hendrix-like solo; which creates a nice contrast with the continued slow pace of everything else. "Driven By Melancholy" closes things out on a bass and piano-driven slice of depression. It's a lovely composition.

Sorry for the play-by-play, but it just felt right this time around. Taking the individual time on each track also helped the nuances sink in more so than if I had tackled this thing as a whole. Gurthang and Beyond Life have done an excellent job here creating some moody, atmospheric music that flows quite well despite coming from two different sources. If you wanted something chill and a little dark to listen to today, your ship has come in.