Anyone familiar with Winter will know the impact the cult band had on doom metal. With an iciness that reflected the name, they created an apocalyptic sound with soul crushing density. Described as its spiritual successor, Goden is a project years in the making and is Stephen Flam’s visionary journey into a future exploring darkness and light. Vas Kallas and Tony Pinnisi join him in creating characters that will guide the listener into another realm.
Beginning with “Glowing Red Sun” and it’s chilling, thin feedback introduction before funereal styled strained chords, a snapped drum beat brings it to life. We’re now set up for an epic, nightmarish scenario. The metronomic thump of drums gives a sense of being drawn inevitably into this world they’ve created. Hugely atmospheric with shades of With The Dead and Cathedral, the trademark sound of Winter has been lifted to another level. The first of the “Manifestation” suite then appears. These form part of eight brief spoken word narratives from Tony Pinnisi who speaks in the name of Goden and to an extent create an almost Biblical styled commentary that sometimes moves between judgemental sermon and condemnation.
The darkness come from Kallas’ growled vocals which are generally fully decipherable and are delivered to often crushing weight, especially when hushed as on “Twilight” which feels like a descent into Hell. Elsewhere, there are tracks delivered in German – “Komm Susser Tod” is majestic, chugging an overtly powerful. Musically, the riffs are stripped bare and it feels as though weight over style was at the forefront of the bands mind. From a percussion point of view, the bone dry snap familiar to Winter is found here too.
“Genisis Rise”, with a militaristic beat and down tuned, buzzing guitar is killer. A mid section chug gives it even more menace as it blends into “Dark Nebula” which is utterly chilling blackened doom metal. Full of cinematic scaled drama, the vocals verge on the strangled. A sense of confusion and chaos is created – has humanity fallen or risen? All the while the “Manifestation” narratives oversee the various musical stanzas. By album closer, the aptly titled “Winter”, you feel like a journey has completed in one sense and yet in another you are to keep continuing.
This isn’t an album of ebb and flow and definitely isn’t one to cherry pick songs. “Beyond Darkness” is challenging and demands end-to-end listening and rewards the more time invested. Heavy? Hell, yes. I don’t mean this in just a musical sense. Equally compelling and enthralling, it’s a powerful artistic statement that stirs thought and emotion.
(8/10 Johnny Zed)