ghoulgotha to starve cover artWhen I really think back, the town I lived in was once a hotbed of great underground music. Bands like Riphouse, Malicious Onslaught, Mutilation, Out Of Darkness, Killpower, At All Cost and more were active, playing shows and releasing demos. One that really stands out is Sectorian‘s Tears No More. My best friend at the time had a mouth so big, you could park a Lincoln in it. People just expected him to talk smack. When this demo made its way around the school, people were laughing out loud long before there was an LOL. My friend (we will call him Nick P. No, wait that is too obvious – N. Perez) upon hearing it said, “Yeah, that’s not so good,” and naturally because everyone wanted Nick to get his ass kicked, they ran to Joe Sibley, the not-so-mastermind behind Sectorian and told him Nick was talking all kinds of trash. Joe approached Nick in the hallway of our high school and said, “I hear you think my demo sucks, well I think YOU suck,” and pushed him. Nick grabbed Joe, threw him to the ground and held him down yelling, “I am not fighting him! I am not fighting him! I am just holding him down!” for any and all authority figures in earshot.

Well, years later, guess what? We still listen to Sectorian. It’s sloppy like a soup sandwich and while part of it is how funny it is because it’s so bad, it’s also genuinely ugly, and shouldn’t death metal be ugly? In the case of Sectorian, the ugliness was because they had no fucking idea what they were doing and could barely play. Ghoulgotha can, and they make their death metal intentionally unsettling and uber-ugly to the point where even seasoned crusty bastards like my brothers in arms, Grymm and Dr. Fisting, couldn’t wrap their iron-laden arms around their debut, The Deathmass Cloak. I started to listen to it out of morbid curiosity and found that it sank into my brain like a cancerous strain to the point that it wound up in my year end top ten list.

And now, their sophomore effort, To Starve The Cross  has landed like a napalm bomb. Much like the debut, and much with the intent to fuck your ass up, the guitarists continue to play leads and melodies 4 frets off from the rhythm instead of the standard 5 just so it sounds wrong to the average ear and, considering these days the average ear has a bar and a few rings and studs in it, that ear deserves the torture as does the rest of this fucked up world. Ugly music for ugly times. This splatter platter reminds me of Incantation‘s greatest and most underappreciated album Mortal Throne of Nazarene. Like The Rolling Stones, so ugly, it’s appealing. Ghoulgotha is pushing the envelope more than Sloth at a Hurricane Down Under appearance. The guitar lick in opening track “Village of Flickering Torches” is sing songy, the harmony is just all wrong, and the end sounds like Nelson Muntz’s laugh. It’s all that is wrong while being just so right. “Pangaea Reforms” takes the insane formula established on their debut to a new level of ridiculous, wallowing in a drudgy swamp of sludge that could have killed Artax in the Swamp of Sadness twice as fast and with much less empathy.


The vocals take Craig Pillard’s vocal style and smashes it in the face with Diamanda Galas. Equal parts beauty and the grimiest of the worst filth, then smatter gore and crap and nasty all over the place. Ghoulgotha appeal to me more than they do to most because I was there when critics reviewed Blasphemy‘s Fallen Angel of Doom and though it was a heaping pile of shit. Label heads told me Nuclear Death were “little more than a noise band.” Now there is a band taking noise and dissonance and not doing what Gorguts does, refusing to craft them into something of beauty, instead leaving it stark naked and ugly to torture the listener. How’s the production? Ain’t the question. It’s clear enough to hear all the mindfuckerry going on and thick enough to rattle the brain stem. This is music to shit yourself by, wallow in the smell, and if like Miss Jackson, you’re nasty, come back for more.

With songs this intentionally hard on the ears, To Starve The Cross is a daunting listen… a lot to take in all at once. Ghoulgotha are a band that might be better sticking to EPs considering their mission is to make your skin crawl. They succeed with flying colors in doing so. If you don’t get it, drive on. If you do, raise the horns and the other sick fucks will be by your side to shiver and embrace all of the wrong and try to make it right.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 10th, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Ooooh. This is sure to rustle some jimmies.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    I didn’t like The Deathmass Cloak at all when I first heard it, I still felt Grymm was way too harsh on his review. Well the album ended up growing on me, and The Sulphur Age sounds p good, so…

  • André Snyde Lopes

    To be honest, this sample sounds a lot better than the one from Deathmass Cloak.

    …I still think it sucks, though. No sense of pacing, random lackluster riffs that are completely unconnected, flip-floppy mood, that pitiful excuse for a solo at the end.

    But hey, it’s just my opinion. Feel free to enjoy it! :D

    • One man’s treasure is another man’s torture.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Absolutely hilarious review, Al. It’s the tits. I laughed throughout.

        Methinks I’ll like this band.

        • You laugh at tits??

          • Name’s Dalton

            I laugh at my good fortune when presented with a pair, yes.

          • A wise man!

          • Grymm

            I laugh at tits.

          • Classic, Grymm…

    • [not a Dr]

      Like math-core that uses approximations and ball-park estimates instead of actual math?

      • sir_c

        meth-core you mean, surely

  • Wilhelm

    This sounds better than what I heard off their debut album. People here were ripping this band to shreds on the debut’s review

  • Alexandre Barata

    Not a fan of “The Deathmass Cloak”, nor of this, at least from the embedded song. It sounds cool in general, pretty bizarre, Thou Shalt Suffer (or any other pretty bizarre band in the genre) without keyboards, but the fact that the songs are just there, stale, don’t have any kind of linear progression really makes me itch. Mozart achieved immortality through his music, you listen to it, you understand why, and it checked all the boxes this left unchecked.

  • This band’s name is silly. Don’t much care for the music either.

    • But ‘Satan’s Undershorts’, now that’s a name! :P
      PS: Sorry, I just had to.

      • I had a feeling someone would say that. Putting that into consideration, my critique seems even more severe. Seriously though, that name sounds like something out of my daughter’s “Monster High” movies.

        • What I think most of us here want to know is simply boxers or briefs?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Gorger, you hit a homerun! The pitcher threw you an easy one, though

        • Can’t argue against that. It was an open goal. (We Europeans tend to use football analogies.)

          • [not a Dr]

            You caught the pitcher besides the goal with his underpants down.

          • I think that pretty much sum it up!

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Especially with the Euro coming soon…

          • Diego Molero

            Can’t wait for that, Germany or France will win it, Portugal don’t stand a chance…

          • André Snyde Lopes
          • Diego Molero

            Yeah, that looks like it hurts…

          • Name’s Dalton

            Look at the offending teammate’s reaction in the background.

            Is this the dirtiest play ever?

  • Paul Stella II

    As someone who’s fascinated with peculiar melody and atmosphere, this band’s music is very interesting to me. Bands often sacrifice intriguing riffs for atmosphere, or vice versa. IMO, there isn’t enough risk taking in the doom-death fold, outside of say a few bands (Inverloch, Esoteric). I’m glad Ghoulgotha isn’t afraid to alienate fans of extreme metal and make music the creators want to hear, regardless of how weird, off-kilter, or bland some listeners may think it is.

    • MelbCro

      Esoteric yes, but Inverloch? I liked Distance Collapsed, but calling it a risk taking release is a bit much.

      • Paul Stella II

        I suppose I was thinking of dISEMBOWELMENT and lumped them along as Inverloch.

        • MelbCro

          For sure disembowelment, is still more bat shit crazy than most death doom that has come out in the subsequent 23 years.

  • This sounds better than last time, but it still comes across like a local band still trying to figure shit out. The transitions are nonexistent and it just kinda jumps around. I’ve heard worse though.

    • [not a Dr]

      That was my impression too: this sounds like they are composing music the way my first band did:
      -Have you heard my awesome new riff?
      -No… Have YOU heard MY awesome new riff?
      -You know what they both have in common? AWESOMENESS!!!

      -They belong in the same song!

    • That adds to what I do like about this album. It never lets you get comfortable and is constantly jarring, like trying to shave in the back of a dunebuggy.

  • ElectricEye

    Reminds me of the Howls of Ebb release from a few months ago which I really like. The starkness of the vocals is what grabs me.

    • That is where the Diamanda Galas comparison made sense to me. Maximum starkness!

  • Grymm

    Two things:

    1) Over a full year later, and I revisited The Deathmass Cloak… and it still doesn’t sound good.

    2) To Starve The Cross is a better album, yes. The “4 frets off instead of 5” thing is better executed here, and that’s due, in no small part, to the guitarists improving as players, not because we (as writers and metalheads) were called out due to our lack of knowledge of their intentions. THAT, moreso than the atonality (which, just ask Anacrusis and Blut Aus Nord, can be an awesome hook if executed just right), is why TSTC is a stronger album overall than TDC.

    • Blueberry Balls

      Dude, the Deathmask Cloak is a fucking masterpiece.

      • Funny thing with bands this polarizing, you can never tell if someone is being sarcastic.

        • Blueberry Balls

          No sarcasm here. That shit is gold.

          • If one more person gets it, then we are all gold!

    • I go back and revisit albums also, especially the ones I reviewed unfavorably. All part of being a responsible critic and makes me feel a little less like an asshole.

      • Grymm

        I try to as well (please note the “try”, as I do fail gloriously at times). But I can see these guys improving more as time goes on, and I’m actually intrigued to see where these guys are going.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    For whatever reason the embed reminds me of Edge of Sanity in parts. Sounds pretty decent from that track alone. I’ve heard somewhere that critics are remembered for their hits and not their misses, so good on you for this whole thing; I’m definitely going to listen to this quite a few times and try to let it sink in because of the review. Goes without saying, but great work.

  • Blueberry Balls

    OMFG how did this slip under my radar? HOLY SCHNIKEYS!!!!