ALBUM REVIEW: DOWNFALL OF GAIA – SILHOUTTES OF DISGUST
GERMANS CREATE AN ENGULFING BLEAK ATMOSPHERE WHERE BLACKENED THRASH, CRUST PUNK & EMOTIONAL POST METAL COLLIDE
It’s baffling how some decent bands manage to avoid the profile their music merits. Germany’s Downfall of Gaia have been going for over fifteen years and boast a catalogue of good quality and critically acclaimed material yet they remain somewhat understated, even in underground circles. Granted their music is hardly Harry Styles, but even for extreme music it has potential to generate greater exposure than it has done. Perhaps this is by chance or design or perhaps Downfall of Gaia’s amalgamation of subgenre styles such as black metal, post rock, sludgy shoegaze and crust punk, is just too much for many. Perhaps all this is unfair, but if you like atmospheric extreme music this is definitely worth exploration.
Immediate impressions here is that DoG nail the knack of creating big, bleak atmospherics while rattling through a range of extreme styles. Existence of Awe is a distillation of windswept and blackened metallic punk and suspenseful post-metal. Emotive leads and a large echoey production give this a sense of airy proportion while The Whir of Flies has incendiary, blast beat powered black metal trading off with simplistic anarchic crust punk passages.
A trademark of Downfall of Gaia’s song structure is their tendency to change gear suddenly and spectacularly. They are fond of interspersing their freezing hi-tempo blur with sections of ponderous hush and wide-screen post-metal reflection. It is a design ploy which the band use often to no small effect. One of the standout songs on the record is While Bloodsprings Become Rivers which has a gripping mixture of emotionally driven snare-battering punky thrash and forlorn, unhurried lulled post-rock. Bodies as Driftwood is another case in point where high velocity wrath flits with stately lovelorn quietude decorated with vocal samples and atmospheric layering.
As with many heavy bands, some of the most captivating passages are when the volume is dialled down and skeletal emotionalism and the musicianship’s delicacies are showcased. With whispered vulnerability, these episodes are some of the most cinematic and epic with the likes of Eyes to Burning Skies demonstrating a Cult Of Luna-esque wide vista quality before charging back into bullet train blackened anarcho-thrash. Whether they are being fast and noisy or nodding their heads with their eyes shut to dense hush, Downfall of Gaia imbue their music with drama and an emotional punch.
Silhouettes of Disgust is a curious and enticing mixing bowl of styles where blackened thrash, crusty punk, and emotional post-metal collide. The band tend move through and between these styles rather than blend them into a synthesis. Therefore, fast black metal thrash, gives way to punky hardcore which drops into moving pieces of sombre instrumentalism and back again. Too urban to be black metal, too metal to be post-rock, too melancholic to be the above, it is a heady mix. Yet somehow it is compelling rather than confused. The binding agent throughout all this is a heartbroken fury of high emotional landscaping. The caustic, dry anguished vocals are straight out of the low-fi black metal cassette collection half buried in a haunted Scandinavian pine forest but the music as an atrophied urbanised intensity with an impactful production.
Downfall of Gaia are on bandcamp: