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Golgothian Denial - The Reign of Hatred Review

by Mark Hensch

Encompassing all that is grim, bleak, and majestic about black metal, Golgothian Denial sounds like a large band garnered from the wilds of Norway. Not so! The tiny two-piece (Lord Grimspeare hisses vocals while playing downright wicked guitar, whereas his compatriot Dekay Enthytusk drums) hails from none other than nearby (for me at least) Holland, Michigan. We have tons of frigid, heavy snow this time of year, and I generally gravitate towards more black metal in keeping with the general moods it invokes in my soul.

Of all I've heard this year, Golgothian Denial has ended up as the most talented, authentic, and interesting BM act to penetrate my skull. The Reign of Hatred isn't some whiny little corpse-painted dweeb moaning and groaning while trying to sound barbaric; this is pure crypt-stomping metal, nothing else. In fact, I'd dare say I enjoyed Reign of Hatred so much seeing as the band rarely slows into slower tempos; blitzkrieging, wrathful thrashers are the norm for most of the songs. To further intrigue the jaded listener, passages of death metal harmonics (Morbid Angel worthy perhaps?), Eastern melodies, and clean quasi-jazz arrangements litter the barren horizon. All-in-all, Golgothian Denial is less black metal, and more an ass kicking. The odd production sounds like crystal-clean MIDI arrangements; one feels at times as those they're hearing a black metal super NES soundtrack remastered and polished to a sweet, muffled shade. It makes for a unique experience, and it is never a dull moment.

The band recorded a five song demo in 2003 entitled The Dark Forest Demos , a road test for their grim companionship. Later in 2003, this disc was crafted. Forged in infernal fire and reeking of blazing brimstone, The Reign of Hatred is eight fist-pumping BM tracks that literally slay. "The Reign of Hatred" title track begins on a gristle-dripping guitar riff, before stabbing your ears with a thrashy black metal massacre. "Delight in the Pain of the Damned" really sets a precedent; throughout Hatred Lord Grimspeare goes (pun intended) to Hell on the guitar. Seriously, the man plays those strings into glowing, frayed crisps. Regardless, "Delight in the Pain of the Damned" also begins an unholy standard of long-winded, intricate, and joyously complex BM masterpieces on this disc. The song goes through the paces of galloping riffs and double-bass, all before decaying into start-stop pummelings and an unholy solo of blistering harmonics.

"Hatred Deified" really is divine, in some twisted way or other. The composition glides in on somber wings of clean, elegant guitar lines. This lasts about a minute before Golgothian Denial breaks your puny necks with an immolating slice of fury. "The Necessity of Life After Death" mixes open, distorted guitars with vaguely Middle-Eastern pluckings. So enjoyable is the instrumental rambling of this song it comes as a shock when Grimspeare roars into life with adamant rage somewhere down the line.

The short "Amongst the Shades of Tartoros" is straight-black metal with no frills; at least, you'd think so until wave after wave of cresting melodies goes helter-skelter. "Stormtroopers in the Legions of Darkness" is bone-breaking insanity the Viking hordes would have enjoyed.

The album masterpiece that is "The Burning Sands of Rub al-Kali" kicks in with a short interlude of what sounds like clean jazz chords...do these guys like Ephel Duath I wonder? It next precedes to weld grim, technical metal with bursts of melancholy, MIDI keyboard substitutes, and random blasts of classical jazz guitaring.

The closing opus of "The Golgothian Denial" is the perfect mission statement/namesake for this band; the track is nothing but furious, blackened guitar wizardry over battering double-bass drums.

Proving that sometimes conviction sometimes trumps even innovation, Golgothian Denial play black metal so well that they don't need to reinvent it to interest metalheads. It's that kind of spirit that has kept bands like Emperor from straying very far from formula. A torrent of bloody, brutal, and blasphemous classic black metal with a few nice swerves to keep one guessing, I declare The Reign of Hatred officially begun. Four hails.

1. The Reign of Hatred
2. Delight in the Pain of the Damned
3. Hatred Deified
4. The Necessity of Life After Death
5. Amongst the Shade of Tartaros
6. Stormtroopers in the Legion of Darkness
7. The Burning Sands of Rub al-Kali
8. The Golgothian Denial

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