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Godes Yrre : Das Nichts

Godes Yrre's latest album is the clearest articulation of their Industrial/Gothic Doom sound to date.

Much like Garden Of Delight's mastermind Seth Artaud, the number "7" features as a crucial part of Abel Oliva's plan. Artaud, not especially famously (outside hardcore Goth circles, perhaps), set out - perhaps inspired by Hawkwind's seminal '7x7' single - to produce seven albums, each of seven tracks, over seven years, and succeeded in doing so with the run from 'Enki's Temple' to 'Paradise' between 1991 and '97. Meanwhile, half a world away in Cuba, somewhere in the middle of that period Abel launched both Godes Yrre and sister Black Metal project Sectarium with demo albums.

To continue the metaphorical twining, you then have to fast forward a good twenty or more years. GOD's metaphysical and mythical focus had since mutated into the more "Chariots of the Gods", and non-numerological, musings of follow-up band Merciful Nuns, while in 2017, Godes Yrre, now based in Switzerland, resurfaced with the album 'Inside The Whale', and followed it in 2018 with 'Ghost Warriors'. 'Das Nichts' marks the third of that trilogy of semi-linked conceptual - or perhaps more accurately, thematically consistent - albums, this time with seven tracks exploring different mythological interpretations of the afterlife.

Perhaps surprisingly, whilst the above comparison seems mostly valid in terms of numerical inspiration, it's not necessarily a million miles away in musical terms, either. There's always seemed to be a Gothic vibe underpinning the Industrial side of Godes Yrre, drawn from the '80s Post-Punk Killing Joke wellspring (even if, ironically, Killing Joke themselves only truly adopted a mechanised sound from the mid-'90s onwards) - regardless, it's not so much the deep, dark, dehumanised weight of Industrial Doom projects like P.H.O.B.O.S. or Gardens Of Gehenna, but more of the blunt, metallic, rhythmic edge and groove akin to the crudely iconoclastic imagery that had "gothic" in use as an insult rather than a compliment, dating back as far as medieval times and as far forward as introducing it as a musical label at the start of the '80s. Within that, you can pretty much pick your own strand going forward - whether it be the Gothic one punctuated by Sisters Of Mercy's Doktor Avalanche drum-machine, or the more outright Industrial Metal of Godflesh - there's something of both here.

And as a bridge sitting between all of the influences Godes Yrre bring together, it's probably the most familiar and deeply-embedded part of the equation, and one that invites the most "sounds-like" comparisons. Which is fair enough: there are certainly moments when the harsher vocals, battering drum machine and staccato, simple but effective, riffs could easily have dropped from the pen of one J.K. Broadrick, or perhaps even A.D. Jourgensen. Elsewhere, though, the stage is owned by much more flowing and developing guitar leads, a Gothic swagger to the drums, and touched by individual keyboard, vocal or even production-based ornaments. Central track 'Aetherium', as a kind of blend of Classical and Ambient, veers completely away from all of that, forming a comparatively gentle (if somewhat stridently Wagnerian, in places) breakpoint between the two triptychs of more aggressively Metal compositions.

Broadly, though, that's the sort of ground 'Das Nichts' covers. It isn't a million miles away from the previous Godes Yrre releases, in terms of musical content - the same influences and elements are present, in roughly the same proportions. It is however, just that bit sharper in how it applies them. Moving the "experimental Ambient" track from the somewhat clichéd "outro" position to a central feature shifts the focus considerably, and for the better, in my opinion. It simply makes for a bolder proposition, and a more coherent album structure. That's helped by a more experienced and proficient sound all round - less raw and ungoverned than previous outings, 'Das Nichts' demonstrates the evolutionary qualities that come with greater familiarity and experience with the tools used to capture the musical vision. And, of course, the lead guitar work remains a shining example of how to really mix up riffs, solos and fills with a seamless and organic beauty. In terms of flaws, it's fair to say that some of the drum parts, particularly, end up sounding a bit monotonous and samey if you're listening to the entire album end to end, and in a couple of places outstay their welcome. It's a consistent work, undeniably, but it does feel like it could have been trimmed and tightened just a little, perhaps to bring it closer to 45 than 55 minutes.

As a final couple of points concerning refinements: firstly, I'm aware Abel has been working on improving and coaching his voice. It's progressed from the oddly-phrased, largely spoken style of 'Inside The Whale' to a much more projected, semi-harsh vocal proper, most of the time. It's not unalloyed perfection, but it is a big improvement, working with, rather than counter to, the music. At the same time, it's sorted out a lot of the accented delivery issues - and here's my latest go-to "involvement" disclaimer - as with previous album 'Ghost Warriors', I checked out early versions of the lyrics with the aim of proofing and correcting any faults (and, by the way, if any other bands are out there writing in English, rather than their native tongue, and want to know how well they translate - I'll be more than happy to do the same for you. Just ask). There were almost none to find, and the way they're rendered on the album means that they're both accurate, and fit in naturally.

I do believe, at the end of the day, that Godes Yrre are something of a "difficult" band. Depending on your route into Rock, Metal and Doom, they may seem - with equal validity - like something of an avantgarde prospect, or a thirty-year throwback using a core of influences from other people's past glories. And that's not always helped by the Doom aspect sometimes being more implied by the subject than actually stated by the technicalities of the music. Nonetheless, that "depending" is an observation which can be made of almost any band. I'm not really sure it even matters: music always comes and goes in cycles, re-using and building on what's gone before. What matters more is that it sounds fresh and distinct in the "now", and I would certainly put Godes Yrre in that category. It may be a little off-piste as far as most contemporary Doom is concerned, but I've enjoyed their early works, and their current renaissance more so, with 'Das Nichts' representing the pinnacle to date. So, whilst it may not be an unhesitating 'recommended' for everyone, it's definitely something that should hold interest to anyone who favours the Industrial/Gothic sound - and/or remembers the '80s underground with fondness.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. No Light Behind
2. Dreaming Into The Ice
3. Naruka
4. Aetherium
5. Death Of The Worms Lord
6. Return To Al-Nar
7. Land Of The Fleshless

Duration : Approx. 53 minutes

Visit the Godes Yrre bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-07-27 by Mike Liassides
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