If there was one thing that struck home when the title track of Stoic went live last month, it was how traditional it felt, there was a gut-wrenching feeling that Ghold had packed in their richly-layered atmospherics and traded it in for esoteric Motorhead worship. Thankfully this isn’t the case, as Stoic sees Ghold Following the path set in motion by each of their previous releases, seeing the band moving even further from the traditional doom spectrum.
Whilst talk of the album being stripped down musically may conjure St Anger-fuelled PTSD in some potential listeners (WE’RE GOING BACK TO OUR ROOTS BRO), that isn’t the case. Whilst the album’s technical approach is mid-paced and simplistic, the release by no means takes a no-frills approach.
Having migrated over to rising Hoxton metal fixture Crypt Of The Wizard from UK doom purveyors Ritual to christen Crypt Of The Wizard’s fresh new label, the album is telling of Ghold’s increasing transcendence of their roots. Stoic is still very much in keeping with these roots, but the move from Ritual may well have been justified, as the album sees the band move even further into a sound which is definably theirs and theirs only.
On the subject of traditionalism, long-time fans of Ghold, and of the group’s progressive aspirations will find much to love on the release. The group’s demagogic crooning is still etched across Stoic’s soundscapes, and the sludge-laden riffage is still as crushing as ever before. Whilst the melancholic atmosphere is still in effect – from what can be deciphered of its lyrical content, the album is inspired by triumph and self-determination.
Another thing to note about Stoic is its championing of conventional doom tropes in Ghold style. Right from the get-go, Ghold display a proclivity for forward-thinking musical ideas, whilst holding on to these same roots with ease. Whilst nine-minute long opener ‘Nothing Dreamt’ incorporates motorhead-esque riffing, the myriad textures across the track perfectly fade in and out of each other. Follow up track ‘Blue Robe’ conjures shoegazey, ethereal ambience out of the walls of feedback so readily trotted out by contemporary purveyors of buzzing, crushing riffage.
Turning doom and sludge tropes on their head is one thing, but Stoic‘s real mastery lies in its form and production. Throughout the release, the complex form of the riffs and a plethora of other noises bounce off each other, to wondrous effect. The influence of krautrock – whilst a very talked up trope in 2017 – effortlessly finds its place within the shimmering tapestries of sound woven throughout. It’s these walls of sound, ethereal interludes, and resultant uncanny atmosphere which they create that help Stoic stand on its own.
Perhaps the most shining of the album’s many graces is that this avant-garde influence at no point becomes dull, Stoic isn’t just a showcase for ponderous, avant-tropes, nor is it simply a doom metal album. The release’s appeal lies within it’s dynamic, but at the same time deeply listenable.
Stoic is an excellent addition to Ghold’s already formidable portfolio and a triumphant beginning for Crypt Of The Wizard. Here’s to many more.
Stoic is available now via Crypt Of The Wizard, get your copy here.