Whenever the personal stuff is hitting me hard (and we have had some tough times in our household the last couple of weeks) my first tendency has always been to reach for something depressive to play. This time around, by total accident, I have stumbled onto Gormathon’s Following the Beast, which is anything but depressive. I stuck with it and received the mood lifter I sought.
To describe Gormathon’s music as melodic death metal would be a mis-characterization. Sure enough, vocalist Tony Sunnhag does growl some, and the music presented tends to be downtuned. Yet, Following the Beast could be just as close to a rather heavy power metal album, with some thrash tendencies, and a hefty nod to the 80s (think Manowar). If Gormathon adopts a Viking theme and goes for a tremolo riff here and there, while Amon Amarth continues to drift towards heavy metal away from the more pure death metal roots, it is even possible that the two might converge on some plane someday. Calling Gormathon a mini-Amon Amarth today does neither band justice, but I can clearly see how Stockholm residents (Amon Amarth) can take the Bollnas people (Gormathon) out on tour with them to support and warm up the crowds.
Speaking of Bollnas. Population 13,000, this little town in the middle of Sweden has something in its water since it provides an outsized contribution to the metal scene. Morgana LeFay, Tad Morose, Bloodbound, and now Gormathon either were founded in Bollnas or at least had many of their prominent members come from this town. What seemingly connects all of the Bollnas bands is their outright sense for catchy melody, and Gormathon is absolutely a member of that club.
Following the Beast is littered with short, most of them under 4 min or so, punchy tunes, which clamor for immediate conversion, succeed at that, don’t overstay their welcome, depart, only to yield the podium for its successor proceeding along the same lines. The riffs on the album do not dazzle in their complexity, this is not Gothenborg melodic death after all. More often than not they are heavy hammer-on-anvil statements (Break the Chains), with knee chopping verses (Celestial Warrior, In Benevolence, Silent Walk). Some would call these “modern influenced” and dismiss them right away, but give Break the Chains and Celestial Warrior some playing time and I guarantee your head will be nodding in approval. Hooky sing-along choruses are a staple, and Sunnhag goes mostly clean on them, but his very high notes are mostly squeals (Break the Chains). No harm there, he won’t be The Voice competition winner, but everybody will know Gormathon loyal troops are on the march when Break the Chains, steady double bass chorus of Celestial Warrior or heroic Hellbender come along.
From here everybody would be entitled to get their favorite songs, the declaration proclamation Break the Chains, whirlwind Celestial Warrior, thrashier Into Oblivion, classic downtuned gallop of Remedy with its Evergrey-like darkness or keyboard accented Absence of Trust. There is even a manly ballad Remember, if you are in the mood.
When I needed it Following the Beast provided succinct effective songs with an exuberant edge, and I want to thank them for that.
Killing Songs :
Break the Chains, Celestial Warrior, Into Oblivion, Remedy
|Alex quoted 80 / 100|
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