Anyone who delved into the Game of Thrones canon knows the saying “winter is coming” holds a lot of weight. But for doom metal fans, the band Winter is something that’s been in the rearview for some time, with their massively influential 1990 debut (and only album) “Into Darkness” hooked generations of listeners and players for years to come. Well, that said, Winter is coming. Kind of.
Göden is the new project from Winter guitarist Stephen Flam, and this band is supposed to be the logical successor to what his original group did on their lone full-length record that’s 30 years old now. Their first record “Beyond Darkness” is a sprawling 19-track, 76-minute album that might sound like a slog on the surface, but it’s definitely a compelling adventure. In between tracks are parts of a story involving three characters: Spacewinds (Flam): NXYTA Goddess of Night (Vas Kallas who handles vocals); and The Prophet of Göden (Tony Pannisi who plays keys and also played in Winter). The music feels a lot like what Winter left behind, only a little grimier and more rugged, which one would expect. It definitely keeps in mind Winter’s lineage and history but also pushes into different, more adventurous terrain not unlike Triptykon from the ashes of Celtic Frost.
“Glowing Red Sun” is a 9:13 instrumental mammoth that opens the record in true gloom and doom style. Noise glimmers as the guitars unearth blood and guts as synth adds a heat wave underneath. Ever so slowly the song bashes and crumbles away, leading to our first storytelling cut “Manifestation I: Tolling Death Bells” where the voice speaks of death bells and Göden lashing out, promising destruction. “Twilight” follows, and we finally get to hear Kallas’ otherworldly growls, which are downright intimidating. The track lurches as Kallas wails, “Forsake me of my sins,” as the doom chars the earth, guitars gush, and she calls, “Blessed be the night.” “Manifestation II: A New Order” has Göden refusing submission, vowing to hold resolve and declaring, “I am Göden!” “Cosmic Blood” follows and mauls right away as organs unload, and Kallas viciously growls, “Saturn is my death, the fist of god.” The soloing burns away corrosively, while the declaration, “You came from nothing,” rings out. “Manifestation III: The Spawn of Malevolence” has Göden vanquishing his creations, the ones who destroyed his dwelling as he notes “their black deeds erased.” “Komm Susser Tod” starts in a synth haze before the tempo pounds away, and Kallas delivers her words in a speak-sing style. The chorus gets muddy and ugly, while the devastating pace feels eerie before viciously fading out. “Genesis Rise” drubs as the growls crawl, and the drums try to kick in your head. “Secrets of the moon, silence of the stars,” Kallas hisses while the playing smudges and layers in added pressure, and the splintering pace refuses to treat your wounds. “Manifestation IV: The Progeny of Göden” has things looking up in the kingdom as strings layer beauty, and unity is the hoped goal for the offspring of the gods.
“Dark Nebula” is thick as tar, slowly unloading its assault on your mind. Kallas speaks wondering, “Are we angels? Are we demons?” a line she belts back in growls later on. The playing shapeshifts and swims in lava before it drops its final deadly hammers. “Manifestation V: The Epoch of Göden” has time passing, synth swirling, and Göden’s reign promising to be forever as we slip into “I Am Immortal” where guitars and the growls scrape along beside. The pace is deliberate while the chorus digs in its claws as spoken lines bubble along with glimmering keys, evil intention, and utter slaughter. “Manifestation VI: The Beginning and the End” is immersed in cosmos as a new era of glory is promised, and the declaration, “Göden is all,” booms. “Ego Eimie Gy” has cool riffs and keys that glisten before sinister speak-singing emerges, and then the vocals turn more to a whisper. The playing floats in the air, through your psyche, and leaves you a mess. “Manifestation VII: Gaia Rejuvenated” has Gaia reborn, verdant beauty flourishing, and crystal waters rushing, and then we’re into “Night” where the sounds carry over, and the assault unfurls. “Dark veil of Hades, drown the shadows,” Kallas commands while the keys coat you in mirth, and things begin to slowly melt. The playing then stretches your muscles to the limits before snapping you back in place. “Manifestation VIII: A New Age” is the final storytelling piece, and we’re in a new age of prosperity, Gaia has reclaimed her place, and all is in order. “Thundering Silence” is anything but as dank guitars and harsh noise rush the gates. A spacey void opens its mouth and begins to swallow you whole while a synth vortex makes its way in, and a strange ambiance takes over and leaves an extended period of strange silence. We end, fittingly, with “Winter.” Makes sense since there was a track “Göden” on Winter’s only record. This is nasty and stormy, with Kallas growling in German, pronouncing it ‘Vinter,” when she spits out the chorus. The playing rattles bones, adding a satisfying final crunch to this resurrection of an album.
Winter’s history and impact on heavy music is undeniable, and Göden is a great next step for the same ideals but carved out of a different side of the glacier. “Beyond Darkness” is a record you want to devour in one sitting, even if that means you’re committing an hour and 15 minutes, because you’ll find the time flies, and the journey was well spent. We are gifted with plenty of doom metal in our lives, but nothing quite like what the originators of Winter can offer.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/GÖDEN.official/
To buy the album, go here: https://svartrecords.com/product/goden-beyond-darkness-album/
For more on the label, go here: https://svartrecords.com/