Review by Chris Pratl on November 28, 2018.
From the beginning of A Transylvanian Funeral’s latest release, Gorgos Goetia, the immediacy of the black metal movement being on life support suddenly permeates my head again. It happens every time I hear the familiar strains of furious tremolo picking that makes the Carpal Tunnel surgeons rich and fat. I assign blame and copious amounts of eye rolling these days when I hear any black metal trying hard to recapture a lost art form some 20-years old. But I’ll tell you, as the CD went further on into the opening track I was much more impressed than I had been from the onset.
First off, the one-man outfit does absolutely nothing new or innovative on the record from what you’ve already heard a million times (to be well expected), but therein lays the interesting nuances, scattered nicely between musical sermons. I dig the vocals; the harsh familiarity is nothing we all haven’t heard before, but over the swell of well-structured music throughout (albeit totally mid-to-low-fi) there is a pretty interesting collective here. There’s a certain howling and airy element to the songs, and this is particularly resounding in “Light Cast Out”, which is something straight out of the Leviathan book of malevolent tonal warfare. The guitar wailing out those lonely and forlorn notes in the mid-section, as the backing arsenal creeps up the spine and lays out the horrid design, is just the sort of encompassment that a modern CD of this music needs to hold your interest. This has to be one of the more eerie black metal tracks to pass my ears in as many months. There’s a real horror attached to the tone of the song, and it fast became one I’d consider in the darker parts of my average evening skulking ion shadows, real and imagined.
As for the rest of the CD, the flow is pretty good, cascading back and forth between eras of old Norse/Swedish black metal and newer, expected sounds, but every now and again the proverbial wrench gets tossed into the works to send your senses into temporary overdrive as you get shaken from a near-fatal lull of ADD. The spoken word in “The Supreme Art of Transmutation” was a nice pick-up for the fans among us who tend to think ahead of the music and get bored too easily, and if that’s the case then black metal certainly isn’t for you. I can also certainly hear the typical USBM punch all over Gorgos Goetia, which is fine when that particular sound is stamped in your mental reservoir for safe keeping. I’ll further say that this music far surpasses anything currently wasting miles of tape and digital space in basements all over the planet. There is a lot going on in here that sounds disturbing, haunting and thin, just as this music calls to be.
With the less- predictable black metal production leading the way, the album isn’t exactly a poster child for the perfect encapsulating sound, but then it wouldn’t be your father’s black metal, would it? The charm here settles in the ambience and aura stirred up within, and this CD does the trick. For the studious disciple of the black metal arts, you will find this CD somewhat familiar, yes, but wholly darkened and legitimately worthy of inclusion in your hallowed library.
A Transylvanian Funeral picks apart the sensory equation and breaks it down into the lowest common elements: a black, surreal effort that can lead you to a few select places unknown and wildly fascinating.
Rating: 7 out of 10
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)