Beginning with an eerie sound effect which could be from the creepiest horror movie of 2023 you haven’t yet seen, Guhts decides not to let it linger too long. You get some keys, tortured vocals, sludgy guitars, and a ton of atmosphere. That’s all within the first minute of the opening track “White Noise.” It’s over 8 minutes total, though, so hold on. Around 3 minutes, the dirty guitars take over, but the vocals are still at the front. This album is mixed masterfully. One may call an 8-minute opener risky, but not when it’s this enthralling.

One of the standout tracks (honestly, they all are, but I digress…) is the third one, “The Mirror.” The vocals and keys take center stage, and the guitars are mostly in the background, but their presence is no less effective or essential. This track may have the best hook on the album, but there are so many more that it’s difficult to choose. The track is over 6 minutes but does not feel like it at all.

The next track, “Handless Maiden,” is no less exciting, but this time it’s mainly because of the unhinged-sounding vocals. It’s much shorter than the rest at less than 4 minutes but fits in quite well with the rest.

“Regenerate,” which is track 6 of 7, is another 7-plus minute emotional rollercoaster. The vocals are more of a whisper in the verses, but the chorus is the best part. Those vocals also contribute to more of a post-metal track, and give it a haunting, almost ethereal beauty. In the last few minutes, the guitars are still relegated to the background, bringing the sludgy riffs while the vocals descend back into maniacal territory. It goes without saying, or maybe it doesn’t, that this is my favorite track on the album.

However, that doesn’t damper the impact of the closer, which follows immediately after. It’s over 10 minutes, so strap in (or on if you’re nasty). I’m not quite sure if that’s a xylophone at the beginning, but it’s a nice touch regardless. This is certainly a sludgy number with the presence of sludgy, slow, distorted, heavy guitars carrying most of the weight. There are also some black metal-sounding, tremolo-picked melodies, which make their presence known here, as well as on other parts of the album. Slightly over halfway, the keys, sludgy guitars, and some brutal, melodic screeching all combine for the heaviest section on the album. It does slow down eventually after bringing it all to a close. Somehow, 7 tracks and 45 minutes do not seem enough.

Fuck, this is great. In my opinion (obviously), this is the first true, unquestionable album of the year contender I’ve heard in 2024. Sure, the year is young, but the mix of haunting melodies, expansive post-metal, and dirty sludge, makes up this unique, emotional, and dare I say, seminal record. You may not think you need this, but you do. I can’t stop listening to it and can’t remark enough how much I enjoy it, although that may not be the point. It’s desperately cathartic, woefully therapeutic, and you should own it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
January 23rd, 2024


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