Artist: Gospel of the Horns
Album Title: Realm of the Damned
This is the second full-length album from Gospel of the Horns, an Australian band playing blackened thrash metal.
The guitar sound on this album is great. The rhythm guitar has plenty of low-end and just enough distortion, while the solos are sharp and ripping. You can hear the bass quite easily on most of these tracks, and the drums are equally well-mixed. That leaves the vocals, and that's where things start to go wrong. They're much too low in the mix, so that it sounds like he's going "blah blah blaaaaaahrrr" about 80% of the time. It's a shame, because this band has excellent lyrics, and they deserved to be heard. Even their demos had better vocal sound than this!
In terms of songwriting, the songs on this album tend to be more straightforward and less epic than their previous work. There are a few pretty baroque songs here, though -- "Death Sentence" goes from mid-paced grandeur to a full-thrash interlude and a killer bass solo, then back again. "Blood and Iron" is another song in the classic GOTH tradition, with an atmosphere of fierce defiance that harks back to classics like "Eve of the Conqueror". In between are speedier songs ("Trialed By Power", "Strength Through Fear") and old-school stompers ("1915", "Retribution"), just about what you'd expect from this band. Quite a few of these should be killer live!
I've been looking forward to this one since "A Call to Arms", and I have to say I'm disappointed. The songs are great, and the sound is too, for the most part... but the vocals kill it for me. They're much too difficult to make out, to the point where I'd rather listen to anything else they've done. The music is excellent by any standard, so I can't do other than recommend this, but to me it's still a letdown. Get their other stuff (the recent Sinners/Monuments to Impurity disc is a great place to start) before you try this.