GOLGOTHA – Mors Diligentis
- by ER
- Posted on 09-01-2023
RELEASE YEAR: 2022
BAND URL: http://www.golgothaofficial.com/
This review opens the 5 album expose on the work of Palma de Mallorca Spanish vocalist, guitarist and bassist Vicente Javier Payá Galindo, the creator of 5 metal bands: Golgotha, Unbounded Terror, Decrapted, Bis.nte and Sons Of Cult – all currently on David Sánchez “Dave Rotten” González’s Xtreem Records or its sundivision Fighter Records. Every review in the series will concern each of those bands’ latest album in the above order.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so (excerpt of John Donne’s “Holy Sonet 10”)
Whether or not we’re willing to admit it, we’re all afraid of death. As hard as philosophy and various religions seek to relieve this primordial fear they fail miserably because we all must die and no amount of information or assurance of what happens after we close our eyes to never open them again…exactly! Will we open them again and in what form? Indeed, isn’t our fear less about the life after and more about falling asleep forever, about ceasing to be once and for all? After all, this life, warts and all, is all we know and all we leave behind when we, as far as our minds are concerned, cease to be every night, what John Donne calls “pictures of death”. This fear is why we are drawn to death, clearly our enemy as the Scriptures assure us (1 Corinthians 15:26). It is a fierce and seemingly an unconquerable enemy for do we not die daily? (v. 31) Isn’t every night, every sickness, every weakness, every failure death in installments? Isn’t the fear of death expressed in virtually every single human word, emotion and action? And yet what is there really to be afraid of? The Medieval Roman Catholic theologian Johannes “Meister” Eckhart von Hochheim OP said the only thing that burns in hell is the part of you that won’t let go of your life: your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away, but they’re not punishing you, they’re freeing your soul, your demons angels in diguise.
This is exactly what I see when I look at the cover of the Spanish melodic death/doom and gothic quintet Golgotha’s 5th full length “Mors Diligentis” (roughly Latin: The Care Of Death). Named almost certainly after the Biblical hill (better known as Calvary) where the Jesus Christ the Son of God who tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9) died the death of deaths on the cross, Golgotha is a band whose beginnings go back to 1993 when the vocalist and guitarist of the Palma de Mallorca death metal band Ubounded Terror, Vicente Javier Payá Galindo, had formed it and, doubtless inspired by the Peaceville Three (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema) and their albums such as “Lost Paradise”¹⁹⁹⁰, “Gothic”¹⁹⁹¹, “Shades Of God”¹⁹⁹², “As The Flower Withers”¹⁹⁹², and “Serenades”¹⁹⁹³, had recorded “Caves Of Mind”¹⁹⁹³, demo “Caves Of Mind”¹⁹⁹⁴ EP and “Promo 95″¹⁹⁹⁵ demo which finally cought the attention of Repulse Records for the fantastic debut full length “Melancholy”¹⁹⁹⁵ (remastered and re-released in 2019) and a more gothic “Elemental Changes”¹⁹⁹⁸ (remastered and re-released in 2019) after which Golgotha disbanded. Reformed in 2005 for just for one year and one album, even more gothic “New Life” (Avulsed vocalist Dave Rotten having taken over the vocals after Ramón “Amon” López Massot ) on Electric Chair Music, Golgotha, again, disappeared, this time for 9 years, but it took additional 5 years to release the second come back album, “Erasing The Past”²⁰¹⁹ (having brought back Lopez for vocals but having found a permanent stable in Xtreem Music) followed by the summary EP, “Remembering The Past – Writing the Future”²⁰²¹, a clear signal they had begun working on a new full length.
For “Mors Diligentis” some major changes were made, changes, in my view, both necessary and right on the money: Amon Lopez was, again, replaced by not one but TWO vocalists, one clean, one growling (which allows some effective angel/devil on the shoulders persuasion), both female, the lineup, therefore, consisting now of the founding guitarist Vicente Payá, María J. Lladó (2020-clean vocals), Miriam Vallés (2022-growls), Andrew Spinosa (2020-bass) and Bartolomé “Tomeu” Crespí Seguí (2019-drums). The album was heralded by Vicente as a return to the more death/doomy past and I wholeheartedly agree as the spirit of “Melancholy” is all over the place but 7 listens (because it’s that good) reveal infuences such as Arch Enemy (especially with Miriam’s vocals like Angela Gossow’s), The Gathering (Maria’s cleans reminiscent of Anneke Van Giersbergen’s), Swallow The Sun (Farewell Humanity, Waiting For My Death), Grey Skies Fallen (that gorgeous romantic melody in “Waiting For My Death” recalling “Spiral Dreams”) and, as usual, Paradise Lost (“My Burden” drawing from “True Belief”) and My Dying Bride (“Unconditonal Love” ending recalling “The Light At The End Of The World”. For example, the perfect opener, as previously mentioned, “My Burden” (itself opening similarly to Killswitch Engage’s only doom/death track, “Desperate Times”) harkens back to “True Belief” – the same spirit, melodiscism, power, genuine sadness, beauty and ambiguous message: dealing with death while imploring to not “worry about time – live day by day” because “living from the past won’t let you move on”. “Farewell Humanity”, about those who would destroy Earth just to get richer and how it may be already too late to save it, recalls the recent Officium Triste, Hypocrisy (middle melody) and My Dying Bride’s “Edenbeast”, the former especially since it, too, is infused with death metal. The central piece and the truly depressing yet not without hope romantic funeral doom dirge “Unconditional Love”, what with the words “a star that died will forever shine in our hearts/we’ll not forget your love” (possibly alluding to Aleah Starbidge?) will heavily resonate within you if you were born carrying that infinite sadness inside and never knew why (why melodic death/doom is my favorite metal genre). Finally, the video single “Waiting For My Death” (with notable Dave Rotten’s additional vocals) is examplary of how to make a track that’s equally melodic doom and equally death metal, in that respect, probably the most well-rounded track on the record, indeed, a perfect album representative as a video single. In the interest of the caring death concept certain tracks clearly repeat the same riff or melody, most notably, back to back “Alone In The Dark” main riff is slowed down then reprised on the gorgeously melodic “Viper Tongue” and the frightening symphonic closer “We The Demons” appears to either foreshadow or reprise the opening “My Burden” for continuity, but every one of these tracks has its own verse/chorus structure so these departures are more like progressive transitions, on one hand, but they fit very well in each case, so, in a way, they are essential parts. I always appreciate little things like that in concept albums. All the while, Vicente’s sole guitar conjures Greg Macintosh (Paradise Lost), Andrew Craighan (My Dying Bride), Martin Kwakernaak (Officium Triste), Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun), Jelmer Viersma (The Gathering) and Rick Habeeb (Grey Skies Fallen) and yes, that melodeath star Michael Amott (Arch Enemy, ex-Carcass).
It is the video single “Our Trust Betrayed” (especially after “My Burden” and before “Farewell Humanity”) that I find a little safe in comparison to practically every other track, all of the rest easily 5.5 yet with both sides still equally 5.5, so that’s really my only gripe. Quite frankly, with the melodies, arrangments and consistent quality Golgotha no longer just matches the Peaceville Three, it easily outclasses them. The album has been fabulously produced by Miquel A. “Mega” Riutort, Vincente Payá is one of the most criminally underrated guitarists in metal and “Mors Diligentis” is hands down Golgotha’s finest work to date, a definite keeper on my hard drive, perfect for those times when life has been dreadful, cold and heartless and there seems to be no light in the tunnel.
To paraphrase Ron Pearlman from the introduction to “1,000 Ways To Die” TV anthology series, death is everywhere. Most of us try to avoid it, others can’t get out of its way. Every day we fight a new war against germs, toxins, injury, illness, and catastrophe. There’s a lot of ways to wind up dead. The fact that we survive at all is a miracle. One short sleep past, we wake eternally and death shall be no more, asserts John Donne in coclusion of Holy Sonet 10, but if you’d rather cope through music “Mors Diligentis” is your soundtrack.