Back in 2018, Golgothan Remains unleashed one hell of a debut. Perverse Offerings To The Void coiled like an infernal cosmic serpent, flexing its muscles around a beefy groove, strange and inhuman melodies, and an almost bottomless depth to its production that effectively squeezed every bit of light from the production. After a four-year wait for the follow up, the Australians at last have unleashed their sophomore effort in the form of Adorned In Ruin. Their latest effort sacrifices a bit of the hellcrushing groove and delectably over-produced low end, instead leaning a hair closer to their own hybridization of a black/death songwriting approach.
- The production is cleaned up a bit. It still leans heavily on the low end, but this time the bass is more easily heard rather than felt as some ominous force. This would be a worthy trade-off if the bass took a few more chances and walked away from the guitar or threw a bit more flair into the mix.
- The vocals trade off a lot more readily between the rumbling barks that dominated the debut and almost wolflike howls–it’s not unlike the alterations utilized by low-end, death-influenced black metal bands like Death Fortress. It adds some welcome variation and a fresh emotional element to the band’s sound. (That desperate cry at 2:30 wouldn’t be out of place on a Poccolus record!)
- The serpent that once took its time suffocating its prey with slower, muscled grooves has changed its attack patterns. While Adorned In Ruin still squeezes from time to time, it largely relies on fast strikes. The melodies that take shape from the band’s Immolation-style riffing haven’t changed much since the debut, but the slight change in the rhythm section’s approach creates a whole new context.
While not as instantly memorable as its predecessor, Adorned In Ruin feels as though it is reaching for a more mature songwriting approach, gravitating away from the primal and leaning into the cerebral. Those carnal, rhythmic breaks are still present, yes, but Golgothan Remains are relying on them a lot less in favor of shifting intensities. See: “Wandering Through Chambers Of Deathlike Void.” The hook in the main riff is one of the coolest riffs the band has done to date, and the spoken-word section (I believe it’s French?) adds an entirely new dynamic. Whereas the almost overproduced aspect was a favor to the band on the debut, it restrains the atmosphere the band is striving for on Adorned. Golgothan Remains have written an incredibly interesting and intense album, but the dynamics fall a bit flat. That intensity all bleeds together, and, ironically, their less constrictive album has less room to breathe. The bridge on “The Malign Hordes Of Abhorrence” should stand out way more than it does–it’s one hell of an album climax–but it melds in so much with the rest of the album that it looses a bit of its punchiness and bite.
Adorned In Ruin serves its purpose as a follow-up. It’s still a strong album, but requires a bit more active listening to fully appreciate against Perverse Offerings To The Void. I can’t help but feel the black hole intensity of the production that worked so well on the debut almost hurts the dynamics the band are striving for here. A bit of dynamics could go a long way with making songs like closer “On Lifeless Wings Of Malice” really come to life. Golgothan Remains have some undeniable chops in riffing, rhythm, and songwriting–they just need to carve out the proper atmosphere to deliver it.