Monday, 7 December 2015

Album Review: Gilgamesh - “The Awakening” - Review by Haniel Adhar

Gilgamesh- “The Awakening”  (2014)
Album Review Format: Youtube streaming
Genre: Metal; Sub-genre: Blackened Death Metal
Date Of Release:  September 6th, 2014
Record Label: Independent
Website: Gilgamesh

Track listing:
Eclipse 01:32
Astaroth 06:05
Slaying in the Name of Ishtar 06:34
The Astronomer 06:21
Aeons of Hate 05:25
Evocating Enlil 06:25
To the Temple of Nippur 00:44
The Curse of Akkade 13:55

Review by Haniel Adhar

Gilgamesh is a “Blackened Death Metal” band from Germany, with a style not unlike that of early The Crown/Crown of Thorns in some ways, with identifiable elements of thrash metal and mid-90’s death metal, and I hear some Naglfar in there. The more I listen to this, the more I hear Behemoth and Grief of Emerald. Fans of those bands would love this.

Being that I am utterly fascinated with the story of Gilgamesh, I thought this was something that I should review. Well, I was impressed and disappointed in several different ways.
First off, let’s give these guys credit for extraordinary musicianship and nailing their “genre” perfectly. And it is the latter that disappointed me: it is so genre-specific that it comes across as lacking originality, from a musical perspective, while being almost completely original from a lyrical perspective.

Another thing that I had a hard time with is the use of programmed digital samples in the beginning of the album and in other places (at least it sounds like programming to me). This is an unfair criticism, however, because the band I am in uses full time brass instruments and I am obsessed with live brass, so I can’t expect every band that uses symphonic elements to use real instruments. That is just not fair. But, needless to say, my ear has become numb to hearing digitalized instruments, and to me it takes away from the music now, instead of adding to it. If I was to make a suggestion to this acutely talented band is to try and incorporate real instruments in the future. They really don’t take a lot of musical risks on this album, and I would think that by branching out and incorporating different instrumentation for the symphonic elements, it would clearly separate the band from the rest of the pack doing this style. The riffing can be too “identifiable”, which leads me back to how they hit that blackened death metal sound almost a little too perfectly.

The vocals tend to be predictable and generic at times, while the incorporation of semi-harsh vocals is a nice change of pace, but also feels forced. But the performance of the vocalist is top notch, if this style is something the listener prefers then there won’t be any disappointment. It kind of reminds me of Man Must Die in some places, which is not a bad thing. There are times though where the “singing” just doesn’t work for me. The vox, however, are really the only place in this that I can see that they are taking any musical risks, and I feel that they could have done more in other areas instead.

My criticisms are harsh, and probably too harsh. But my expectations are high here.

From a talent and musicianship standpoint, this is some top notch stuff. The guitars are well played, tight, and clearly mistake free (which is becoming harder to detect with modern Audio Software dominating the industry). Yet, as a guitarist, I can really appreciate and respect the playing here. I made the comparison to The Crown, and in my opinion the guitar playing exceeds that of The Crown, especially in the clarity and accuracy of the solos, the exceptional harmonies, and the proggy-type chords in places. Really enjoyable to hear this and it will appeal to many guitar-o-philes for sure. Good work, to say the least.

The drummer can flat out play. Flat out. So, this is one of the highlights of the album. The dude smokes. Based on their live videos, this guy is doing what he is doing in the studio on stage, and that should be commended. There are some parts where the bassist is doing some funky stuff, and even a solo, which is cool to hear. We can all probably agree that the song writing is very good as well, if at times some of the songs drag a bit, but that is a minor criticism that fans of this particular style will not have an issue with. Clearly, these guys put some serious effort into how they created their songs. Another positive aspect of this album.

The band sent us the youtube link and I did not receive individual song files or a hard copy to review, and it was hard to keep track of the songs on youtube. So, no track-by-track description for this one…please refers to the Bandcamp link for higher quality files and information. The production value is clear, modern, and professional, and almost clinical and sterile at times, which is the case for many metal bands today, so that criticism is void.

Final Verdict:
This is good stuff. it worthy of the moniker “Gilgamesh, he who is 2/3 divine, son of the Goddess NIN.SUN, and king of Erech who is the slayer of the beast Humwawa and the Bull of Heaven, while on his search for the Everlife”? I don’t know! (*grin*). But this sure is very good metal music that should appeal to a wide variety of metal fans. Personally, I enjoyed it in spite of my critiques.

The short list:
Genre: Metal; Sub-genre: Blackened Death Metal
For Fans Of: Behemoth, The Crown, Dissection
Production Value: professional, clear
Musicianship: High
Re-listen value: Moderate
To Buy or Not to buy? BUY

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