Golgothan- Leech

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Artist: Golgothan

Album: Leech

Label: Lacerated Enemy Records

Releases: 2/4/2022

Country: United States of America

Written by: Aaron Michael Kobes

At first glance, Golgothan is a seemingly typical death metal band, complete with gruesome track names, a gut churning music video, and a perhaps “more schtick-ish than most” approach to their appearance, with their Gwar inspired regalia, though presented in a more subdued form. At first listen however, they are anything but, bringing to the table an impressive musical technical ability in direct, albeit brilliant, opposition to frontman’s Jai Benoit’s gurgled growls that are reminiscent of an unnamed yet ominous Louisiana swamp cryptid that Benoit might just be a descendant of. In the simplest of terms, the debut full length album by Golgothan, Leech, is disgusting in every form; from it’s visceral imagery and preoccupation with human excrement, which one should probably expect of a band named after a literal shit demon, to it’s unrelentingly aggressive drive of brutality in track after track. And I absolutely love it, as should any self-respecting fan of the metal genre, despite their sub-genre affiliations and allegiances.

One of the most fascinating aspects about a project like this in particular, is how layered it is; it appears at once to be a double-entendre, while also being a piece concerned with transitions. From the first, with a name like Golgothan, which could either refer to a demon composed of human feces as mentioned previously, or a derivative of the place where Jesus was crucified (if you believe that sort of thing) the band lingers and thrives in an area of indefiniteness. Then of course, you have the name of the album, Leech, which, depending on the circumstances of the creature being attached to ones body, could be of assistance, as in the case of medical intervention in the prevention of necrosis of the skin by keeping blood flowing to the area in question (a sort of healthy catharsis). Or, on the other hand, it could be detrimental; an opportunistic parasite that latches on and takes what it needs, and perhaps leaves a nasty virus in the form of a boil in its wake. Perhaps it is a bit of both, an intentional parasitic infection that’s meant to stay with you because it has something to say and is in some way beneficial to you. In the end it doesn’t really matter which you choose, because it all serves the function of presenting an ambiguity to the band. One that requires more than a passing glance or passive listen to better appreciate. For instance, in looking past the names, the titles and the physical appearances, and diving deep into the meat of the meaning-the lyrics themselves- we can see that how it can easily be taken as a theatrical gorefest, pleasing to any early Raimi or Romero fans, but it can also be taken within a subtler, more allegorical framework. This is also where the transitional work comes in, and the big heft into heavyweight territory for me as well.

Leech begins with a music box that’s been cranked to give it it’s start, with the warbled gurgle of Benoit accompanying it in the background as it coalesces into a discernible melody. Benoit then enters the track proper by discussing the innocence of a child, “untouched by blasphemy”. This contemplation of initial humanity continues onto the top of the title track, when Benoit growls: “The imagination of a child/ is boundless/ Extraordinary worlds/ surround them/ Beautiful until it turns to/ shit/ They wander aimlessly/ without recourse to/ diversity of powers that/ be and occasionally/ stumble into a realm/ built on detriment/ where the number one/ priority is enslavement/A playground?/A coffin?/ Why would they/ understand the/ difference?/ They’re just kids/The construct of/ garments becomes the/ ideal/hiding place to a child at/ the mall/ But what lurks beyond the/ whimsical darkness?”, before he speaks to the subversion of the self at the altar of conformity to a “mainstream lifestyle”.

The examination continues on a macro level on some tracks like “Parent Organism”, looking at the culture at large and an individual’s coming to life within it, and micro on others, like “Gravy Train” that casts a more critical eye on the continued degradation and slide into a menial existence through personal choices, and it’s negative blowback.! This is all interspersed with tracks like “Teeth to Eat You” that reads more like the plot to Texas Chainsaw Massacre than meaningful composition to the overall whole, and yet still somehow finds an appropriate place within the project so it is not so over-bloated with meaning . This ideology of self abandonment for the “typical” or “idea” self is further examined and exampled in the single, Bottomless Pit, wherein there is a sort of ominous tale of warning about the dangers of consuming, consuming the shit that is shoveled to you by employers, record labels (anybody really), or simply consuming for consumption sake until there is nothing recognizable of the self that has been abandoned or juxtaposed into something beyond recognition- “I haven’t seen my dick in years/ since birth I’ve shoveled shit into a bottomless pit”. The end result being a consignment to the state of zombification in turning on oneself for sustenance, with nothing but a depleted self todraw from, thereby creating an undeniable situation destined for collapse, but hey, at least; “After all these years I can finally see my dick”.

Despite having some heavy/serious undertones implied through the lyrical content, Leech is simply still a good time to listen to. From Jessie Majors and Leblanc’s crushing riffs, shrill snapped pinched harmonics that sound like a siren blaring and inspired harmonies, to Eddie Jacobs keeping faithful death metal time through barreling blast beats, arriving at Jerik Thibodeaux holding down the through-line thrumming a murky bass groove and acting as an echo chamber of backing vocals, the musicianship is as tight and on point as it is technical in its ferocity. The only truly disappointing and perplexing thing is the reason it took so long, nearly a decade, to make the transition from EP to full-length LP. Perhaps it is the incubation period for such a noteworthy effort, one can only hope that, like so many infections offloaded by parasites, that Golgothan are now predisposed to recurring opportunistic infections of similar artistic bent, so that they may lance the boils and drain the pus into their next LP.

Be righteous by listening to and supporting Golgothan on Bandcamp:

Bandcamp




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