GOLGOTHAN REMAINS – Adorned in Ruin (2022)REVIEW

A new tail and a freshly grafted head grace the natural growth of the predatorial body — With layers shed and bloodied voice wracking their throats to evolve the still-brutal, still recognizable omen of Sydney, Australia-based cataclysmic death metal quartet Golgothan Remains shrieks alight as their second full-length vies to stand taller and breathe greater fire than the last. ‘Adorned in Ruin‘ lands slow as an oil-slicked feather, bearing the same properties that’d inform its collision with the air yet producing an remarkably different slap once it connects the first blow of heaving earth. In the process of making charges toward a darker future in continuation of their previous work these fellowes have begun to leave behind a different stain, a curiously stretched and blackened tract in lateral undulations of serpentine din set to match a more capable, undaunted beast.

Golgothan Remains formed in 2015 after most of the folks originally involved had been creating formative works (see: Offalectomy) since the late 2000’s, their sound hadn’t been anything to write home about when their self-titled demo (‘Golgothan Remains‘, 2016) released yet their intent to crank out dissonant death metal was crystalline. The resulting album, their debut full-length (‘Perverse Offerings From the Void‘, 2018) was all the more shocking as a generally stellar work that’d stricken out quite loud and bombastic with the wily curvature of Ulcerate influenced riffing carrying the experience. It’d been a rush of an album and a noteworthy take on the style for my own taste, having favorably reviewed the album after it’d released. The major criticism of their work up to that point was that it’d felt formative or fairly linear in its thunderous ways, beating away at the same techniques and repetitive rushes of fretwork with slight variation which I’d remarked as a general “sameness” that kept the record from being a real nuke. This seems to have been well-enough addressed on ‘Adorned in Ruin‘ a comparably most dynamic and over the top blackened semi-dissonant atmospheric death metal album

There are several changes, some big and others small, in approach of this second full-length with the first being a more spacious and dynamically set production value, cast off into the direct distance with a great chasmic drop beyond about fifty feet. Much like the previous album this distance shortens as their brutality heats but there is yet more breathing room available for slower breaks, vocal grandstanding, abrupt tonal transitions etc. and yet it all feels believable related to ‘Perverse Offerings of the Void‘ due to the same fellowes (Aaron Worboys/Adversary Studios and Brad Boatright/Audiosiege) being likewise responsible for this render. Even more notable is a duo of major shifts in line-up as new bassist Aaron Martin sports a more distorted tone and active style while new vocalist Matthieu Van den Brande quickly stands out just as much within his expressive style, as we find the Belgium-borne fellow bringing mid-lung roars and rasping blackened drawl to their eccentric fray on songs like the “Wandering Through Chambers Of Deathlike Void” wherein extended French spoken word will likely confuse folks showing up for an Australian band. Needless to say that both new members are highlighted in silvered, grimiest lustre on late Side A standout and representative crown “Opulent Incarnation Of Persevering Torment” where the distorted bass frenetically whips its sludged-out furor beneath an unhinged vocal direction. These are intense yet well featured changes to the characteristic voice of Golgothan Remains and this does a great service to avoid any potential exhaustion felt within the full listen.

The third and of course most impactful change to delve into herein is the left hand exploration we find suiting the still ‘Vermis‘ and Adversarial tinged atmospheric death drive of the guitar work as Matt Hillman‘s oeuvre finds more distinct pockets of riff rather than relying solely upon chaotic shifts in mood and phrase to beguile the imagination. Think of it as something lightly similar to the evolution of Abyssal or Suffering Hour while planting a more ragged, Incantation-brutal foot in the death-leaning dissonant blackened death metal space. These songs are still not set within ‘old school’ hook capable climes and yet aim for a certain shade of apocalyptic modernism, that is to say you’ll not likely be humming a Golgothan Remains tune while vacuuming your carpets anytime soon but the dynamic shape of the full listen has yet improved in its presentation by way of thoughtful rhythm guitar placement. The main reason I’d recommend this album to folks who were yet admiring from the fence in terms of this band’s style in the past is that the guitar work, riffcraft and atmospheric swells alike, does a much better job of accentuating other performances (“On Lifeless Wings of Malice”) and directing the pulse of things when called for, such as the intense peak of the record “Forgotten Lores Of Hatred And Bloodshed”, to the effect of a decidedly brutal yet lithe sense of movement.

Though the surreal sense that things have changed and a newly distinct character has arisen is enough of a thrill to warrant a recommendation of ‘Adorned in Ruin‘ the sensation remains such that where Golgothan Remains tread is entirely new territorial marking for them yet the scars on the dissonant blackened death metal halls of ages suggest this is nonetheless well-tread territory. I’ve got quite a few records in this style (from the early 2010’s in particular) on my shelves to say the least and from that point of view it’d be fair to say that although the band’s artistic growth is fantastic in a bubble, and I was certainly happy to get a “more and better” version of it here, the record itself lands in crowded company where if I’d suggested they’d scraped and clawed to the top of the heap just yet it’d be too hyperbolic a statement even for me. Thus a sort of above-average placement in the landscape is in order and this comes alongside a full embrace for the artist honing their craft in a multitude of finer points of evolution. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (80/100)

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Adorned in Ruin
LABEL(S):Brilliant Emperor Records,
Sentient Ruin
RELEASE DATE:April 1st, 2022

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