posted on 1/2011 By:
Now just where the hell did this come from?
That was my thought as the grandiose, semi-overture-styled intro of “Towards Pandemonium” crashed out of my speakers. After all, Sweden’s Ghamorean isn’t exactly new on the scene. A band since 1997, Terra Ruina is their third full-length, and the wildly bitchin’ first impression caused confusion as to why I hadn’t heard of this black/death trio before. The mystery was doubled by a little research that revealed scattered and overwhelmingly positive reviews of their earlier work. Then it hit me: metal residing in the no-man’s-land between striking innovation and formulaic homage often causes a band to get overlooked simply because they neither appeal strongly to the avant-obsessed nor the to true-metal stalwarts.
Furthermore, music that is only slightly unique is sometimes the hardest to pinpoint with a description. Such was my initial struggle with Terra Ruina, despite the album seeming like a relatively standard black/death hybrid. The best methodology? Work from how this album doesn’t sound in order to arrive at how it does. Let’s start with Ulcerate: Ghamorean do not sound particularly like Ulcerate. The latter’s unique melding of the black and death arts is a fine-tuned, ultra-smooth, and massively atmospheric journey of cavernous dissonance. Ghamorean’s approach, while no less dissonant, is the confrontational and in-your-face yin to Ulcerate’s yang. If Ulcerate is the sound of a perfectly blended black/death metal smoothie, Ghamorean is the sound of someone using nails and screws as ingredients to break the fuckin’ food processor.
Precisely because Ghamorean couldn’t give two shits about atmosphere, their focus is in honing a forceful attack. The very punctual tremolo harmonies, sometimes angular rhythm work, well-timed blast beats, and varying textural harsh vocals all work together to emphasize this intent. It almost achieves a certain Grand Declaration of War militant vibe at times, despite there not being an industrial note present. Even when things let up on the aggression, such as with wispy and airy dissonances in that aforementioned opening scorcher or some very effective clean singing during “In Man, a Plague,” the music is still not working towards any kind of moody immersion. Instead, these passages are meant to underscore the blunt edges of their barbed tremolo riffs, backwardly twisted thrash sections, and in the case of “In Man, a Plague,” an especially brutal verse. It’s a skill of dynamics that shows up throughout the album, most noticeably during the almost Anata-esque builds that highlight “Calvary & Martyrdom.”
Ghamorean’s wisdom of experience is revealed in the professionalism of the presentation (a gloriously appropriate production and mixing job) and performances of this album. In truth, the only things preventing Terra Ruina from being mentioned among the elite albums of black/death art are a slight inconsistency in the focus of song structure – a trait that could also be interpreted as part of the charm – and a couple throwaway interludes. Still, these quibbles can’t stop this album from hammering home some good and mostly great metal. Ghamorean isn’t exactly a band on the map, and judging from the quality here and the supposed quality of their first two albums, they belong there. So lend this one an attentive ear and then follow me in investigating their earlier material, and give a deserving band their just due.
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