posted on 1/2012 By:
With Golet, Serbia’s stalwarts of under-the-radar black metal excellence The Stone seem to have confidently turned the page on an era of their career. Their 2006 gem Magla achieved a mix of Drudkh-like atmosphere and an internal riff monster commonly unheard in their region. In 2009, they released Umro, which offered much of the same but was unfortunately hindered by a poor production that served neither side of the band particularly well. Golet, however, has shifted almost completely to a strong focus on the riff without losing any of the qualities that make The Stone fit in so well in PanSlavia. They’ve also managed to write a black metal album that might just appeal to the more hook-hungry fans among us.
From the moment that “Sekao duboko, zakopao plitko” crashes out of the gate, it is clear that The Stone is no longer hiding their confident, almost brash side. In fact, on Golet the more expansive elements of the band have almost entirely vanished, thanks largely to a switch to an incredibly crisp and clear production. Fans of the band’s earlier material may cry foul that the dirt has been removed, but rest assured that nothing has been compromised. If anything, this new approach serves the band’s sound even better. (Think the transition that Immortal made between Blizzard Beasts and their later work and you get the idea.) There are a few moments where some added grit would aid the human element of the album a bit, but for the most part the production works like gangbusters—this thing punches.
The general influences are the same as in the past, but also like in the past they’re all hidden in a sound that is completely and utterly The Stone. Mix the music of the region with a bit of Taake, some Blodhemn-era Enslaved, spice it with an almost prog songwriting style, and toss in a touch of Immolation; just make sure to swap out the latter’s death metal malevolence for some cold abrasiveness. The songs on Golet range from catchier, more direct material to lengthier, complex pieces and everything in between. The band shows a great ear for detail (small additions that keep the nine minute “Pred licem novog boga” interesting), maintains a touch of atmosphere when necessary (quieter moments in “Nikad blizi smrti”), and has meticulously placed their tasteful soloing right where it is needed.
At nearly an hour, Golet undoubtedly gets a bit long at times, but The Stone has wisely dispersed strong songs throughout and ended with probably the best two of the bunch. Just when the outro of “Pred licem novog boga” seems to be winding the festivities down, “Barren Earth in Cold Death’s Hands” kicks the listener with some active guitar wonkery and a particularly chilling chorus. (At least, I think it’s a chorus.) “Humke” then closes the album in fully epic fashion with riffs that should be (but aren’t) a bit too busy for the framework and passages of chilling, lumbering material that help to achieve a full resolve. It’s an ideal cap for an album that makes up for its lack of an arc by simply stockpiling its minutes with killer material.
Perhaps Golet is where The Stone always saw themselves arriving, but never had the resources to achieve this sound. Or perhaps they chose to drape themselves in the blackened curtains of old for so long like some sort of atmospheric safety net and only now felt like shedding the garb. Or perhaps they’re just evolving—more than likely, it’s that. Whatever the reason, Golet is a keeper, and likely to appeal to a wide spectrum of the blackened horde, making it an ideal place to delve into one of black metal’s great unsung acts.
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