Golgothan Remains – Adorned in Ruin Review

Here’s one that stands astride the world like a colossus. With Adorned in Ruin, Golgothan Remains birth a slab of death metal massive enough to register on the Richter scale. Four years after their initial effort Perverse Offerings to the Void landed the coveted Kronos Seal of Approval, these Aussies stomp back over the horizon line with a sophomore offering that builds on the promise of their debut. Sydney’s young merchants of dissonant death have the stones to name check the mighty Ulcerate in their promo copy, and the chops to emerge from the comparison unscathed. You, on the other hand, will be scathed, as these vile songs crush you into paste and then smear you on a rock to evaporate under the dying sun. Let’s peep about underneath this monster’s legs, dodging its footfalls and glancing up when it’s safe to take the measure of the beast.

Adorned in Ruin retches up nine songs that have the collective density of a dwarf star. These compositions may feel thick, but the average length of each one hovers around four minutes and change. Golgothan Remains craft a relatively accessible version of “difficult death” that’s a musical safe space for vocalist Matthieu Van Den Brande to lay down a performance that really should have the authorities considering a 72-hour psych hold. Matt Hillman’s guitars tease and torture over a rhythm section that feels like tectonic plates colliding. There’s a majesty to the sound that bands like Dead Congregation and the above-mentioned Ulcerate flay from the skin of traditional death metal. It feels apocalyptic to these ears, like they’ve conjured forth a soundtrack to the fall of mankind. It takes around thirty-five minutes for Adorned in Ruin to unfold, and in that span Golgothan Remains hack out space for themselves within that still-developing tradition.

The band kicks up a mighty ruckus, but Van Den Brande’s vocals often steal the spotlight on Adorned in Ruin. He is legion here, unleashing a multifaceted attack that includes rasps and traditional death growls, a croaking “growls-plus” mode that is surely inflicting structural damage on the poor man, and howls of animalistic terror that might just prompt your neighbors to report a case of canine abuse. Opener and embedded single “Veneration of Carnal Blasphemy” showcases most of Van Den Brande’s range, while elsewhere (“Wandering Through Chambers of Deathlike Void,” closer “On Lifeless Wings of Malice”) he adds variety with chants and spoken word sections in both French and English. It’s a combination of styles and sounds that I’ve not heard grouped together before; the performance is a marvel of intelligently applied insanity, creating something unique out of a melange of existing tropes.

Van Den Brande moans and gibbers atop the sturdy foundation laid down by his bandmates. There’s a sense of weight and scope to the music of Golgothan Remains, one that’s common to death metal bands with this much ambition. The riffs from guitarist Matt Hillman are sometimes groovy, sometimes trem-picked and dissonant–but they tend to come at you in layers, creating a formidable wall of sound. Adam Martin’s distorted bass lines are a constant presence, serving double duty as both a pillar of the rhythm section and as an occasional melodic driver of their own. The production lends a critical assist–the mix gives every instrument space of its own, but you’re also free to submit to the always-crushing whole.

As rewarding as it is to witness a young band fulfill its promise, Abandoned in Ruin still leaves territory for Golgothan Remains to conquer. The songwriting is always rich, but the underlying patterns are similar to those found on Perverse Offerings to the Void. The growth on that front is iterative rather than revolutionary, and it leaves the listener with the feeling that, while these scapegraces may be approaching the top of the death metal game, they haven’t peaked just yet. Golgothan Remains may still be one album away from making the kind of grand statement that will have their name on everyone’s lips. I’ll be waiting eagerly, but that won’t stop me from spinning Adorned in Ruin whenever I need to be stomped flat by a quality slab of concise, crushing death metal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Brilliant Emperor Records | Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Website: https://www.facebook.com/GolgothanRemains | https://golgothanremains.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 1, 2022

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