By Jerry Herrera
If any group of people can latch onto something and support and love it fiercely, it’s horror fans. We will defend films that we know are bad and the ones that are actually great are forever indelibly imprinted on our hearts, our minds, and our very bodies. Even in the face of a society that, by and large, looks down their noses at our taste in film, we soldier on. The only other group of people I know that can relate to our struggles, and with a lot of overlap in population, are metalheads. Now, take a love for metal, horror, and stack an interest in synthwave on top. Now you have one very specific but very passionate person.
And that very specific, very passionate person would hear someone like GosT and get very, very excited. GosT blew me away with his last release, S/T, so I had big expectations when he went over to Blood Music and released Behemoth.
By and large, GosT retains all the terror and brutality of S/T but perhaps spaces it out across more tracks. After an appropriately spooky intro, 'Genesee Avenue' explodes into what we love best, quick fingered synths and fat, angry basslines. 'Night Crawler' slows down the initial rush with a similar, somewhat more retro cruise sound. 'Master' brings the aggression back in a huge, ear melting way. I had to keep my headphones turned down a bit because this track has TEETH. What’s really great about GosT is that at the drop of a hat, he can switch textures and instruments without losing the essence of the track, fully exploring the ins and outs of every theme he tackles and 'Master' is a great example of that.
'Reign In Hell' is a short, sweet bit of...horror dance? It’s like Daft Punk took off their helmets and revealed snake-tongued skulls beneath. Speaking of, 'Tongue' is a bit of John Carpenter-ish, Goblin-esque outrun. While I loved the preceding tracks, 'Tongue' is the one that builds the best atmosphere the most quickly. I’m being stalked by an unstoppable horror that’s wearing his sunglassess at night and maybe has a little strut in his ominous steps.
Continuing this neon nightmare is my favorite track on Behemoth, 'Without A Trace' featuring Hayley Stewart. While it may have been done before, I have to remark that this is the entwining of two very different tentacles of the synthwave beast. It’s soundtrack horror synth and vocal pop, something resembling Desperately Stalking Susan. It’s catchy and simultaneously foreboding; it’s answering the siren’s call and accepting the descent into the black, it’s letting the succubus steal your soul.
'Ripper' and 'Bathory Bitch' both scratch certain synth itches, 'Ripper' being a fuller, heavier and slower journey and 'Bathory Bitch' another bit of unrelenting horror OutRun. I have to note that 'Bathory Bitch' has everything I loved about 'Without A Trace', but without the vocals. But again, GosT switches up his tracks and careens down so many different avenues within the span of three or four minutes. 'Bathory Bitch' shifts into a downright terrifying gear during the last minute or so, taking me to a place that’s somewhere between Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy and the scene in Thriller where they’re getting surrounded by zombies. I think people will gravitate most quickly to one or the other of these two tracks, and the only reason 'Without A Trace' wins my heart is because I’m a sucker for retro vocals.
'Sacrament' is a short palate cleanser before the title track. 'Behemoth' is the birth of the demon, it’s the creature rising from a wound in the Earth, it’s the spreading of black wings over the village. It’s everything I love about GosT. Brutal, unrelenting, full of growling, grating basses and stabbing synths, tempo changes, and a certain technical wizardry that only comes from obsessing over every instrument and rise and fall in your wave forms. The last two tracks are remixes of 'Reign in Hell' and 'Behemoth', by Dance With The Dead and Perturbator, respectively. DWTD extend a pretty short track by bringing their signature shred and glitched, stuttering insanity while also giving the track soaring, almost mournful moments, adding a bit of emotion to the brutality. Surely Lucifer lamented his fall from grace? Perturbator cuts back on the original theatrics of 'Behemoth' but somehow squeezes more growling, roaring anger out of the track and the choirs and pads punctuate like horns jutting from the crown of the Beast’s skull. If a song could be called a spectacle, this would certainly qualify.
Behemoth is a study in terror and hopelessness, darkness, cruelty, and our own inescapable and ever present demons, demons that represent the worst parts of humanity, demons that will inevitably overrun this plane of existence. As an album, it’s technically astounding, if a bit heavy. Not complaining, but I had to turn it off and take a step away more than once. You wouldn’t read The Inferno all in one go, would you? This is also a study on cross-genre notoriety. Synthwave fans and metals fans alike are responding to GosT and others of his brood and the unholy unity of the two worlds should yield some brutal results. I’m glad we’ve found desecrated common ground and this is exactly the kind of creative alchemy that propels our community into spotlights but more importantly, into new directions, however dark those avenues might be.
GosT presents Behemoth and is available on the Blood Music Bandcamp page here.
Behemoth is very, very highly recommended by Synthetix.FM