26 Jul 2015

Gouge - Beyond Death [Full length] (2015, Hells Headbangers)

Kolbotn, Norway, is perhaps best known for fathering Darkthrone. With Gouge, there's really no semblance to those legends, turning more towards an American style of thrashing, grinding, old schooling death metal in the dirtiest style imaginable.

Their album debut, released on respected label Hells Headbangers, is about as graceful as a car crashing at a hundred miles per hour against a flock of devoted christians. The count-in of the opening track 'Wretched Passion' is about as classic as it gets. In that way the demented Norwegian death metal duo portray their convictions rather vividly at an early stage. Paying tribute to the legends of early American extreme metal, Gouge represent a state of mind that's all about combining riffs designed to be played at insane speeds with equally fast drumming. Since this hasn't been tampered with to the point of musical regurgitation in ProTools, this means it sounds a bit sloppy. Just like it should.

When you aim for the legacy of the likes of Repulsion, Impetigo, Autopsy and Master, slowing down once in a while may not always seem to be part of the equation. But without the contrast between fast and slow, the faster, thrashier parts don't stand out as well. Tracks like 'Butcher Attack', 'Devil's Debt' and 'Morbid Curse' do this adequately, but they are the exception to the rule it would seem. The fist-fight riffs are forcefully captivating, but it all gets a bit much over the course of the half hour Beyond Death lasts without slower parts to mediate the sonic chaos that is Gouge.

While I enjoy grinding death metal as much as the next guy, I also like when neckbreaking speed is juxtaposed with slower, churning sections. Maintaining an evil atmosphere by speed alone is tough when the majority of the riffing is savagely simple, and the longer tracks - especially the title track, which also serves as the closing track - are easily the best on Beyond Death. Whether the band's debut is beyond anything but a respecting homage to the groups that started it all I'm not too sure, but it is a fun listen nonetheless, even if it doesn't quite soar to modern classic status. 7/10 guitars.

1. Wretched Passion
2. Breath of the Reaper
3. I Smell of Rotten Death
4. Blood Feast
5. Putrefaction
6. Butcher Attack
7. Morbid Curse
8. Malady Macabre
9. Uncontrollable Madness
10. Chaos and Horror
11. Devil's Debt
12. Beyond Death

GOUGE offical facebook
Hells Headbangers official site

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