Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holodomor - Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre EP (2012)

It's not every day that a band stumps me both with their actual name and album title, but England's Holodomor have done exactly that, forcing me to break out the encyclopedia and atone for my vast reserves of cultural ignorance. As it turns, out the moniker could not be more appropriate to the band's auditory chagrin, because where the original terms represents the synthetic Ukrainian famine/genocide of 1932-3, the sound this band churns out of their amplifiers and microphones is representative of the loss of all hope and happiness. A void of warmth, and a burst of turbocharged hostility so callous, intense and uncaring that you can just close your eyes to it and picture the mass graves filling up with starving dead, their final tears pestled into the dirt.

The band is categorized as a black/thrash hybrid, and while I must admit I'm hearing a lot more of the former, I think the band has a clear lineage back to the Altars of Madness era of Morbid Angel where the music was borne of an explosive, shifting velocity which was never written at the expense of the riffing content. More recently, I might also compare it to Watchmaker, Angelcorpse or Aussie warfucker legends like Gospel of the Horns and Bestial Warlust. Where you get a bit of the thrash influence is in the meticulous construction of the faster guitar sequences which are a lot more technical than you'd normally expect from a band of this sort: blistering speed/tremolo passages not unlike the Teutonic titans Kreator, Destruction and Sodom once implemented on their formative releases, contrasted against ruptured walls of spite and dissonance that are far more akin to those served up by Scandinavian black metal acts in the 90s. Rather than the standard sneer or rasp, though, vocalist A. Widawski has this vicious, bludgeoning anger to his voice quite clearly comprised of conviction and agony.

There is little respite to be had anywhere on this EP, with about 17 minutes and five tracks that, in procession, tear your ears off and devour them in front of you. A few moments where they will slow down the pace for a bit of ominous discord (in the depths of "The Spell of Black Affliction" or "Tribulation Stigmata"), but in general it's non stop celerity. But don't be fooled into thinking that they lack for dynamics, because the actual structure of the riffing very quickly changes its course a number of times in each track, despite the fact that they keep them rather brief and to the point, several under 3 minutes. The tones of the recording are earthen, natural, straight to your face, with no gimmicks or synthesizers, just a controlled savagery that functions well alongside the nihilistic, simple yet poetic proclamations of lyrical irreverence, with nothing for souvenirs but the listeners' ashes and an unsettling, lingering hatred.

I can't claim that I was constantly engaged by the music, but I WAS constantly assaulted by it. There's a lot happening here, and while the songs aren't perfect or incredibly memorable, they foot the butcher's bill with enough change left over that I'd recommend Témoignages de la Gnose Terrestre (or 'Testimonies of Terrestrial Gnosis') to anyone seeking their spirituality trampled in a Nietzschean frenzy and then extracted like a malignant tumor.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10] (I hail the ruin in me)

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