Gold’s seductive, deathly rock pokes at bleak future, personal woes on intoxicating ‘No Image’

GoldThere are those times where no matter how hard you work, no matter how much you care, you spin your wheels. It’s frustrating as hell, and it can send you back to the drawing board a million times to try to figure out what you’re doing wrong. Personally, I wake up every day trying to be a certain type of person and trying to fit that into the crumbling world around me and my own shortcomings. It’s easy to feel you’ve gotten nowhere at all.

That may not be exactly what Gold are going for on their second record “No Image,” but perusing the assorted biographical information included with the album, and listening to the music itself, it brought me back to that thought. The band already has done some interesting things with this new album, including their amusing, relentless use of emojis as well as the shocking, upsetting video they released for the first song on the record “Servant,” itself a tour de force. The band is digging into the idea of wanting to move ahead and progress through life, yet always being pulled back by other forces normally out of the person’s control. Also, especially with that video, sometimes there are things you can’t unsee or erase from your memory. Elements of seclusion, confusion, isolation, and hurt permeate these songs, and this collection is one you can’t help but revisit over and over, always peeling back new layers.

Gold coverGold hail from the Netherlands, and their stunning debut record “Interbellum” landed early last year. The group mixes various sounds together from dark and death rock to goth to doom to very tasteful pop, always ending up in the gloomiest sections. Yet even when things are utterly drab, the songs burst with life, energy, and catchiness, making what can seem like a hopeless situation feel a little sticky. Out front is vocalist Milena Eva, whose incredible presence and stabbing charisma really fuels this music. Along with her are guitarists Thomas Sciarone (formerly of The Devil’s Blood) and Nick Polak, bassist Tim Meijer, and drummer Igor Wouters, who add style and substance to the album and pour gasoline on the fires. It’s not a metal record, per se, but it’s still damn heavy.

Aforementioned “Servant” kicks off this record, with Wouters driving the track with his steady, swaggering beats, and Eva pouring her dark essence, wailing, “Dark and narrow, deep and narrow are my dreams.” The chorus is one you won’t remove from your head, and every bit of this is totally alluring. “Old Habits” blisters, with the Theremin floating mysteriously, the tempo pulsating, and Eva repeating, “Old habits die hard,” on yet another chorus you won’t be able to stop repeating. There is cosmic noise, static squall, and guitars that bubble dangerously. “O.D.I.R.” begins in a pocket of noise before it punches open, rambling ahead and claiming prisoners. Eva is in full command, and at times she reminds of a really sinister version of Shirley Manson. “Shapeless” is a straight-up rock song with guitars scraping and melodies shimmering, and it piles into “Tar and Feather,” where the music pops you and Eva’s singing pokes and prods. Violence and torment bleed into the scene later, with the singing digging deeper, and the scene getting even darker.

“The Controller” starts with a Western noir feel, with the music later feeling gazey and dreamy, and the signing floating above the din. The guitars get more active as the song slowly starts to open up, with the volume piling, and the noise blaring and raking at your skin as it reaches its end. “The Waves” is faster and more aggressive, with the vocals and music bulldozing equally as hard, and the colors causing your head to spin. They leave you no time to take a breath or prepare, as the music weighs down, and Eva belts, “There ain’t no way out of here.” “And I Know Now” owes its beginning to raw punk rock before the track pulls back and get more atmospheric. The path gets easier and kind of gentle, showing a new side to the band, but as the track winds down, the singing and playing start blazing. “Don’t” lets guitars strike out, as Eva’s voice quivers dangerously, as she weaves tales of longing and desire. The track plods and bruises, pulling you over each rock on the road, with the track blowing open as it nears the finish line, buzzing and leaving chills. “Taste Me” gallops out of the gates, with Eva’s voice fluttering, the guitars chugging, and the melodies poking at elegant pop. The singing leads the way, a bright, blazing light in the night, as the music burns beside her, and everything fades into oblivion.

Gold are an alluring, seductive band that sucks you into their vortex and never lets go. “No Image” is a really strong, darkly fun record that always gives you something new and exciting with each listen. These are dark times, hopelessness is in every corner, and bands like Gold are here to take you by the hand into the night so you can try to find some sense of glory together.

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