Ghold - Stoic album review
Dynamic sludge trio cause a disturbance on consecrated ground
The disquiet permeating Ghold’s new music is extremely effective. Now more than ever they understand that a passage of near-silence can rattle the nerves just as well as a rapid speed increase paired with a colossal sludge riff. Stoic, Ghold’s latest LP and first for record-store-turned-label Crypt Of The Wizard, utilises the quiet/loud dynamic in the same way a horror soundtrack would. For instance, Nothing Dreamt opens with a descending doom figure swaying side to side like a drunkard down a back alley. This leads to a jolting percussive outburst as the cryptic refrain, ‘Admittance of the wound!’ is bellowed repeatedly before devolving to babbling shrieks, the music then turning to a gentle patter akin to blood dripping on cobblestone. Stoic is constructed entirely out of such stacked, portentous elements and is best experienced in one uninterrupted sitting. Listened to out of context, Blue Robe and Faeder Ure – dark-ambient segues purposefully sequenced to suture the other songs together – wouldn’t have the same visceral feel. The latter even evokes the disturbed spirit of Bernard Herrmann’s Hitchcock scores, albeit in the context of post-Sunn O))) drone. It sets up Skhül V in blood-curdling fashion, which sounds like Melvins circa Bullhead if the Big Business boys had jammed on it.
Recorded in Leeds’ Unitarian Chapel, Stoic absorbs the natural ambiance of the 17th-century building – and surely the pneumatic rumble of Ruptured Earth (Head In Sand) and instrumental wig-out Skhül VI shook a few rats from the rafters. Tom Goddall’s production is also suitably Albini-dry, to the point where you can feel the metallic heat from the instruments as Skhül VI’s turbulent riffs and rhythms cycle faster and faster, like a krautrock act with masterful tempo control suddenly struck by a psychotic episode.