Gomorrah - The HaruspexGomorrah struck like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky. Slated for a mid-January release date on the not-exactly-major-label Test Your Metal Records, The Haruspex got overlooked in an administrative snafu. As luck would have it, I am nothing if not diligent about my hoarding of new music. And when I popped Gomorrah‘s The Haruspex on I knew that we’d missed something good.1 I put out a general alert to the staff, trying to get someone to review this very-nearly-overlooked record and in the time I was waiting I’d managed to listen to it twice.

Gomorrah knows the trick of originality in a metal scene loaded with bands: crib your riffs from three bands, not just one. Back when I was in my high school band, we always joked that people thought we were cool because we were aping Iron MaidenMy Dying Bride, and Ulver all at the same time. And it’s no slight to say that this pair of Canadian death metallers have done a great job of blending a number of sounds—at first blush Anaal NathrakhNecrophagist, and Behemoth—into a coherent whole that is powerful while being paradoxically familiar and unique at the same time.

The Haruspex‘s most defining feature is one of barely contained chaos. This is bolstered by the subtle industrial feel and production tricks, and is enhanced by the fact that guitarist Bowen Matheson has a unique and loose style that often borders on feeling out of time with the music. Right away on “Nine Kings of Sulphur,” his use of whammy—or at least some kind of tone modulator—makes his guitar sound out of control. This fluid feel shows up again on “Sitra Achira,” adding ambiance in a clean interlude where the two guitars are just slightly out of sync. The motif repeats on “Cerulean,” featuring a solo that feels like madness bottled. Ostensibly a technical death metal band, Gomorrah performs with a level of artful imprecision that differentiates them from the crowd.

Though, it’s not just the chaotic, loose feel which characterizes Gomorrah‘s sound. Rather than focusing on pure technicality, The Haruspex features heavy groove and immediate riffs. Tracks like “Dismantling the Throne” break out blackened groove riffs, while “Venom and Rapture” features a Nailbomb riff in simplicity and feel. This style makes natural room for effective breakdowns—”Crowns of Flesh” has a moment that wouldn’t be out of place on a Job for a Cowboy record. Because Gomorrah does such a good job of balancing different sounds, their use of groove and half-time breakdowns is effective and welcome, making the songs infectious rather than hackneyed.

Gomorrah 2016

Over all of this, vocalist Jeff Bryan uses his growls—deep, brutal, rhythmic—as the percussion instrument they should be. His vocals break no ground, but they fit these songs by offering an intense focus and staccato inflection above the riffs. I only wish that his vocals could sound as unconstrained as the music underneath it—like something bordering on the madness Gaahl on later Gorgoroth or Trelldom material; a performance which invokes the feeling that if they let this guy out of his straight jacket no one would be left unharmed. But when Bryan does occasionally show off  a black metal register, it’s an effective change of pace.

The weakness with The Haruspex is in the production and mastering. On the one hand, this is music that is written for extremely high-gain guitars and it’s engineered for such a mix. But the production encourages choices I dislike. The drums are heavily triggered and the bass is pushed to territory in the mix that borders on inaudible; more felt than heard. The whole record sounds mechanical, with songs being interrupted by industrial static like on an Anaal Nathrakh album—lending to the feel that things are so out of control that your speakers are shorting out. Still, this production uses a bass drum sound that’s high in treble, which gives the kicks that “clickity clickity clickity” sound that featured so prominently in the early aughts.2

On the other hand, few bands make modern production sound as good as it sounds on The Haruspex. Gomorrah plays a style of death metal is cold and mechanical. While there are dynamic moments here and there, most of The Haruspex is mostly a blast-and-grooveathon, which like Origin, can get away with more in the loudness department.3 These guys use this sound to their advantage and I’m willing to cut them slack for their artistic choices. It speaks to the strength of the songs and feel that despite my dislike of some of the production choices, I can’t deny that The Haruspex  works.

Despite some small reservations, this two-man-band won me over with its excellent riffs and loose ambiance. These thirty minutes of spine crushing metal push all the right buttons for me: brutal, infectious, and concise. Don’t sleep on The Haruspex.4


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Media Reviewed: 192 kb/s mp3
Label: Test Your Metal
Websites: gomorrahofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/GomorrahOfficial
Released Worldwide: January 15th, 2016

 

Show 4 footnotes

  1. On the topic of haruspices, I need to fire mine, because I didn’t know this was coming out.
  2. Back when I was wearing an onion on my belt, as was the fashion at the time.
  3. Not that the volume swells and dynamic breaks wouldn’t be more effective if they weren’t as loud… gripe, gripe, gripe.
  4. …she’s covered in intestine.

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  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    In my defense, it’s a really short album. And I was too busy making the ultimate meatball sandwich.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Don’t mention food right now. I’m just getting over that album cover.

      • William Hebblewhite

        Makes me crave sausages.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          BRAAAAGHK!!!

      • Kronos

        I’ve seen my share of bloodied intestines in my day and I can assure you that they don’t really look like that. The blood is way too red.

  • AndySynn

    iiiiiiiiiinteresting… I’ll be checking this one out once I’ve got my current reviewing slate dealt with.

    First impressions are favourable though. A hint of Blood Red Throne to some of the riffs.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’m a bit surprised you liked this one so much AMG,
    After listening to a few tracks I can say I enjoy the ambient moments most, which not what you want to be saying about a DM album.
    The Drums are just to fake for me. Seems like the songs are there tho. I’ll be interested to see what they come up with next.
    Also that cover…yuck

    • I was surprised. Give it three or four listens and see how you feel about it. I got hooked in spite of the sound.

  • Ok this is way too confusing for a simple American like myself, we can’t have TWO WHOLE BANDS named Gomorrah that play DM. Thus, I hereby dub this Canadian band Gomorr-eh. Your pronunciation may vary depending on your province.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      When I first saw the name, I assumed it was the Ohio Gomorrah (which I love and can’t wait for the upcoming game album).

      • ::Stares at you fixedly for an awkward period of time.::

        Ohio-rah?

        • Scourge

          Gomohiorrah obviously.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Hell yes… Death/thrash band.

    • madhare

      There are so few words in existence so obviously bands are running out of choices. ;)

      But yeah, metal bands could really consider broadening their vocabulary, imagination, and inspiration sources.

      • Alex Benedict

        like pomegranate tiger

    • There are actually 8 bands called Gomorrah. I likely would have gone to Metal Archives before choosing the name.

      But this is the only one from Canada, so whatever.

      • From their icy palace, the members of Gomorr-eh sip their strange brews and wonder, how easy would it be to form a Gomorrah band member only ice hockey team? Ice hockey team LEAGUE???

  • Points for: Brutality, riffing, vocals
    Points against: Drum sound (apparently they have a drummer, but that sounds like a machine and not in a good way), dark grey font on a black background on their Bandcamp page. srsly guys, how am I supposed to read that shit?

    • [not a Dr]

      You’re supposed to read all that on something’s intestines.

  • Thatguy

    This is pretty good, although I agree with the criticism of the drums. And not Prog at all. Thanks AMG.

    • Prostidude

      You’re right, no prog. They forgot tot add some Jethro influenced flute sections, which would have fitted nicely.

      • Philip Pledger

        I…actually probably would have enjoyed this had they done that. That would have been epic.

  • SegaGenitals

    Album cover… toga party at planned parenthood?

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Great to see AMG writing reviews somewhat consistently again this year.

  • Worldeater

    I immediately listend to it after it came up in my bandcamp feed but the production (especially the drums) really troubled me. Maybe i´ll give it another try.

    • It’s funny, because it’s a style that would trouble me under normal circumstances but I am really enjoying the sound.

      • Worldeater

        Maybe I just have to heed your above advice and give it repeated listens … the ideas and riffs are certainly there!

  • Elton Chagas

    A 4.0 for a technical death metal band? I almost thought I was at No Clean Singing…

    • I like tech death. Kronos likes tech death. I’m not sure what’s going on in this comment?

      • Kronos

        Yeah but usually I shit on it because I have to review a lot that is bad.

        • That’s ’cause lots of it is bad.

          • Kronos

            There were days when tech death was my favorite genre. Those passed when I started having to listen to the bad parts of it.

          • It was my favourite until about 2005-2006, then Anata vanished and all the Origin and Necrophagist clones showed up.

      • AndySynn

        I think he just wanted to unleash his sick burn on NCS.

  • ElectricEye

    Sounds like Dethklok to me.

    • AndySynn

      Thank you! I thought the vocalist sounded like Nathan Explosion at a few points, but was afraid I would be brutally mocked for suggesting such a thing.

  • SegaGenitals

    Not working for me. I wish that it were. Guess I’ll just spin the latest Horrendous for the umpteenth time.

  • Dethjesta

    I agree about the production being a little weak but I still really like it. It has an agreeably uncomfortable feel.

    Also, Interesting use of embedded image – the one on metal-archives is the same photo but with a third guy. Did you cut him on purpose?

    • Kronos

      That’s the image that came with the promo.

      • Dethjesta

        Must have been a messy break up.

  • Grymm

    “Dismantling the Throne”… holy shit. What a good song.

  • Iliast

    I’ve liked this album more with every listen. Bit of patience pays off with this one.

  • Thanks for introducing me to Gomorrah, AMG! It took some time to get used to the brutality of this record, but The Haruspex turned out to be excellent. Nice length too, don’t think I would enjoy this album as much as I do now if it had been 40-50 minutes.
    First album I bought in 2016 :)