If you thought British doom – at this point in time basically a well-worn mix of Black Sabbath (natch) and the unholy trinity from the North – Paradise Lost, Anathema and My Dying Bride, specifically their early works – had pretty much reached the end of the line, inspiration-wise, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to what Godthrymm have been doing since their inception in 2017; Slowly carving a niche for themselves, in the process consolidating ‘that sound’ in to something that very much works to their bidding, the release of Distortions sees the band finally ready to legitimately lay claim to the Brit doom crown.
This state of affairs is undoubtedly down to the band’s obvious willingness to toy with the genre in question. And whilst there will always, pleasingly, be room for large slabs of adamantine riffage, the band baulks not at working tracks like this album’s closer, Pictures Remain, into the framework. The beautiful, ice-cold fragility of the first-half of the song actually sounds more like Brit shoegaze darlings The Cocteau Twins than anything you might expect on a ‘doom’ record thanks to Catherine Glencross‘ superb vocal; the ethereality of the song’s opening is matched by a crashing mid section (which you could probably have predicted would happen but it’s none the worse for that) and topped by a searingly emotional guitar solo from the band’s other Glencross, Hamish. It’s fabulously inspiring in the ambition and execution displayed, the mournful final notes reinforcing the listener’s sorrow that the album has come to a close.
Glencross’s thoughtful heaviness is of course the fulcrum on which the whole album balances, but the ballast provided by ‘Sasquatch’ Bob Crolla‘s bass and the drum avalanches created by Shaun Taylor-Steels shouldn’t be underestimated. The intro to epic opener Titans shows the three harnessed perfectly, allowing the track to build momentum almost imperceptibly until it seems almost unstoppable. That is, of course, until it stops, unexpectedly and on a dime, in a moment of real songwriting suss, to provide a stark, clean-guitared contrast as the song enters it’s second half under the vocal command of another memorable, mesmerising lead from Catherine. Genius stuff.
The band do ‘uncomplicated’ pretty well, too, if that’s your bag; Devils is a superb piece of melodic metal that motors along with the sort of harmonies and earworm rifferama that Paradise Lost would have snapped up in their mid nineties chart-bothering days and an overblown, gothic second section you might find Ghost sniffing around if they were looking to heavy up their sound a bit…
Talking of harmonies, Hamish’s own vocal contributions – vastly improved since the band’s early days – match those of his wife’s, the pair giving a heartfelt soul to the lyrics sometimes missing in doom vocalising; Indeed ‘soul’ is a word that crops up regularly here, as the band dig deep into the recesses of the human condition time and again. It’s genuinely moving at times, and enables the band to inject feeling into all the songs no matter how heavy the instrumentation gets.
All round, then, a success as big as the sound the band have built for themselves. Congratulations to all concerned.
Distortions releases on August 18th.