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Godes Yrre : Inside The Whale

Excellent guitar work and inconsistent vocals dominate Godes Yrre's experimental debut full-length.

Godes Yrre play a synth heavy, Doom/Death/Black influenced brand of Industrial Metal. As a general rule, the songwriting leans towards electronica influenced guitar repetition and modulation of simple patterns with an effects palate that hearkens to bands like Ministry, but they also incorporate bare bones synths in a melodic role with typically dissonant repeated phrases and in a textural role as background pads, drumming that runs a gamut from rigid patterns straight out of an '80s drum machine to more conventional Metal styles, and, more relevant to this site, slower, feedback drenched doom riffs and the kind of airy, comparatively clean and melodic guitar lines over the thick distortion used by groups like Elder. It is an interesting approach, but above all else, the album's quality is dictated by one amazing success and one colossal failure: the great hybrid lead/solo work, and the awful vocals.

I'll start with the vocals. Abel Oliva, the man responsible Godes Yrre's music, typically employs a monotonous talk-singing approach. Now, this wouldn't be a problem if he committed to it. There are a ton of Industrial bands who echo the sense of machine-induced desolation in their music with vocals stripped of human emotion, and I find the effect wonderful in the right circumstances. But Oliva doesn't commit, vacillating between a flat delivery, attempts at normal singing, and screaming. Rather than spicing things up, it just comes off as indecisive.

Now I don't think it's fair to negatively judge a work simply because English is the creator's second language, especially given its dominance of the metal world, but the reality is that talk-singing really brings out problems of diction and pronunciation in a way that sung or screamed vocals do not. I would not lower my opinion of a release for having accented vocals, but when your phrasing has a Walken-esque number of inexplicable pauses, something needs to be said.

Not all the vocals on this album are bad. Oliva's screamed vocals, as well as the computerized and demonic ones on 'Inside the Whale', are actually nice. But, often as not, these alternate approaches fall just as flat as his regular ones, particularly in the case of the final track.

I'll put aside the question of whether it is possible to effectively mix tribal chanting and industrial music, because, as a whole, I don't think Godes Yrre's decision to incorporate primal and mythic elements into the genre was necessarily poor, especially regarding the lyrics. There are a number of Pagan and Viking bands that treat the way the failings of the modern world and the lack of a connection to a heroic past are connected, and what this band does essentially frames the same issue from the other side of the coin. It is the manner in which Oliva incorporated these elements into 'The Prodigal Son' that is so grating.

A certain amount of passion, if not frenzy and ecstasy, is implicit within the very idea of tribal music. So when Oliva decides to throw down some hand beaten drum patterns and imitation wind synths, and then follows them up with repeated string of non-lexical vocables in the same flattened, emotionless delivery I described above, the effect is completely ridiculous. It's as if an old and weathered medicine man wanted to prove he could still conduct a rain dance, but right in the middle he ran out of breath like Axl Rose at the 2002 VMAs.

Now, onto the good: the lead guitar work. In particular, the hybrid solo/lead/fills Godes Yrre often employ. For ease of reference I will refer to them as solos from here on out, but Oliva really blurs the distinction between the three. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it reminds me of how Elder use high register melodies to "float above" the thick mix of heavily distorted guitars. Sometimes he uses simple looping riffs that are fairly conventional for Industrial music. Other times he will use them for a clearly delineated solo. However, I think Oliva's at his best cutting a course between them.

To give an example, on the album's opening track, the guitars spend most of the song playing a very minimal two note riff that he shifts up and down in pitch. Then, he begins the solo with a three note pattern that at first seems to fit in with the riff, save being a bit more dissonant. It's fairly common to open up a solo with a little "warm up" lick to contrast against the more intense playing, but instead he takes his time exploring these three notes, shifting around the speed in which they are introduced, modifying them with minor additions, really digging into what can be done with the modulation of simple phrases in a way that reminds me of John Coltrane's free jazz period. Oliva then continues experimenting in a similar vein, moving through a handful of new two and three note combinations, but now including bends and a Slayer-esque sense of dissonance, in effect bridging what he did before with what is to come. Finally he really lets loose into a style that reminds me a lot of Kerry King's implementation of rapid, harsh chromatic passages.

Most of the album's solos are similarly interesting, featuring experiments, loopy, disfigured patterns, rapid oscillation between leads and solos, and movement from pleasing consonant sections to ear battering dissonance. I know that Slayer's solos are not universally acclaimed in the Metal world, so if you aren't as infatuated with them as I am (or of extreme dissonance in general) than this probably won't appeal to you, but I absolutely adore it.

So that leaves me with the question of scoring the release, and it really boils down to the two things I described above. The terrible vocals and the magnificent soloing overshadow the rest of the album to such an extent that they really come to define it. To that end I am forced to cut a middle course with my rating.

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Reviewer's rating: 6.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Sons Of Adam
2. Inside The Whale
3. A Stone In The Head
4. The Forgotten Father
5. Seven Braids
6. Another Divine Image
7. The Prodigal Son

Duration : Approx. 52 minutes

Visit the Godes Yrre bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-02-27 by Pat Jenkinson
Rotten Copper
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