Written By: Nameless_N00b_08
One might be excused for drawing certain assumptions by just glancing at the logo adorning GodSkill’s The Gatherer of Fear and Blood. It does have a core-y vibe to it. But if an image pops into your head right now of sentient, ambulatory tattoos that scrape the ground with their instruments to accentuate an ultra-sick breakdown, then stop right there and fear not. For GodSkill do not deal in crabwalking and floorboard br00talization. Instead, these Germans subscribe to more traditional strains of death and black metal. With seven years of experience under their belt, The Gatherer of Fear and Blood is their second full-length that combines those two styles. And this experience shows, because their tar-thick brand of demon worship has quite a bit to offer.
Groove-laden death metal serves as the foundation for GodSkill’s music, replete with chunky riffing and forceful growls. This base, however, is interwoven with slick guitar melodies often reminiscent of Illdisposed. In addition, the band mixes in faster tremolo sections and some quieter passages, like the sinister strumming of the title track, to break up the otherwise mid-tempo affair. While the timbre of Carsten Quadel’s vocals tends to stay at the same elevation level—that being approximately the depth of Hell—GodSkill often layers different styles on top, ranging from blackened screams over ominous whispering and chanting, to ethereal female cleans (“Ungodly Is the Flesh”). The varied vocal approach keeps monotony at bay and also adds a good amount of unpredictability. The triangle of heaviness, blackness and melody is mostly weighted towards the former, as exemplified in opener “The Eleven Kills the Ten,” which shows off the infectious death metal riffing and Carsten’s commanding bellow. “Ungodly Is the Flesh” and “The Shell,” on the other hand, feature more liberal tremolo usage to fill the blackened end of the bargain. GodSkill’s melodic sensibilities are present on every track, but are most prominently heard in Timo Schütz’s lead and solo work in “From the Ashes of Angels” and “Preliminary Invocation.”
Variation is the key for The Gatherer of Fear and Blood’s success, as GodSkill never lingers on any mood or tempo for long. Thomas Bernhardt’s drumming orchestrates this point, maneuvering swiftly between blackened blasts and minimalist tapping (“The Gatherer of Fear and Blood”), or providing the driving rhythms for plodding choruses (“Demon Mother,” “The Shell”) and Timo’s majestic solos. This dynamism comes at a small price though, as it leads to a few unfitting moments. The chorus of “Ungodly Is the Flesh,” for instance, undermines the heft of the surrounding material with its angelic delivery and “Demon Mother” is stopped in its tracks a few times by generic start-stop riffing. That said, these moments are few and far between and both mentioned tracks still have too much to offer to call them bad.
The production is a perfect fit for GodSkill’s music, with Tim Eiermann’s mix providing enough clarity to let all the instruments shine. Jens Bogren’s mastering meanwhile boosts the crushing power of the riffs and Uwe Schwaderer’s impenetrable bass foundation. Combined with a pacing, that keeps a good balance between the heavy and the light, The Gatherer of Fear and Blood easily retains the listeners attention throughout its concise 35-minute run-time. Instrumental “Preliminary Invocation” hammers this fact home, bathing the listener in soothing melody before closer “Becoming a God.” GodSkill pulls out all the stops again in this final track and brings the record to a satisfying conclusion with tons of groove, soaring leads and manic, Behemothian screaming.
Minor blunders aside, The Gatherer of Fear and Blood is a dark, but also beautiful little journey. GodSkill’s consistent use of melody and dynamic writing make the group stand out amongst others in the genre. Thankfully, they accomplished this feat without neglecting heaviness in the way that a lot of melodic death metal tends to do, meaning that there’s still heaps of headbangery to be had. Shaking grounds seems to be GodSkill’s agenda instead of breaking them and if it sounds like this, I am perfectly fine with that!
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3