GURTHANG – Hearts of the Hollow
I found this Polish outfit’s previous effort, the raw and piercing "Ascension" (2019), a hugely impressive piece of work and it was one of those great releases that grew on me the more I listened to it, so naturally, I was quite keen on getting my filthy paws on their upcoming album "Hearts of the Hollow".
In terms of style and atmosphere, very little has changed in the Gurthang camp, and we should all be grateful for that because what they do works like a vile charm, so really, why mess with something like that? What has changed, however, is the fact that they have sharpened their claws and refined their particular mixture of black metal and doom metal even more, which entails that these eight new compositions come across as more focused and efficient with respect to conjuring up layers of impenetrable gloom and darkness than anything that Gurthang have released previously. They vary the pace throughout and rarely stay in one place for very long, but the tracks lack neither flow nor coherence. The vocals are downright inhuman and also borderline unhinged at times, which is to say that I love and cherish them as they add so many interesting flavors to the abhorrent opus and complement the dissonant riffs and desolate melodies superbly. The LP as a whole inhabits an aura of existential despair and a stark feeling of potent misanthropy, and the rough textures and organic yet unpolished sound of the record work in its favor. On top of that, there is a strange sense of something majestic to it, which is underlined by its huge, crushing doom metal riffs and fierce black metal-esque traits and elements. Perhaps the best examples of what these guys have to offer are the infinitely morose "Spasms of Reflection", the epic title track, and the slithering mass of twists and turns titled "Concealed Beneath". Then again, there are no lackluster tunes to be found on the disc and it is solid as fuck. in that department.
With its unpleasantly philosophical lyrics essentially dividing the album into two deeply connected parts and its overall sinister musical content, this is a powerful metal output that possesses a reflective staying power, and you should check it out.