Well, what should you do with yet another seemingly pretentious (debut) album from a New York band that claims to mix post-metal with avant-garde into a Regeneration. The album, that is, which lyrically revolves around growth and creativity, a result of that same regeneration, according to guitarist Scott. Vocalist Amber is the founder of the whole, by channeling her emotions, where the source of inspiration is undeniably acquired from material out of books dealing with the same regeneration. Do you still follow?
GUTHS was founded as a passion project at the start of the pandemic in 2019 and consists of talented musicians from Witchkiss, Black Mountain Hunger, Sleaping Dreaming and Nefariant. GUHTS only really started to really find their place in 2022 when the definitive line-up was complete, and the band has already mesmerized many audiences in the region with their unique, hauntingly dark and emotional music. The enclosed promo sheet also mentions their debut EP Blood Feather. During that period the band did a number of successful tours and shared the stage with acts such as YOB, Cave In, The Otolith, Marissa Nadler, Mizmor and Without Waves. And then my ears start to perk up a bit, because if your band has been taken in tow by YOB, you can either make good music, or you have simply been added by order of the label. Let’s hope for the former, although the latter is not necessarily an indication of disappointment.
The choice to pretend that you are bringing something new to the metal spectrum is quite a daring move. The four member company does not claim that, however, as mentioned earlier, it just slightly appears that way. These are just four Americans who want to make music that they want to make. Shit on conventions and imposed labels, I am telling you. Just throw imposed junk in the nearest trash can. But don’t you do that with this debut album. Put the record on and let everything go for a moment. You’re not into post metal? Avantgarde or other bells and whistles? No? Also not a sludgy setting full of heavy pounding guitars, showy drums and heavy vocals that go from soft and pinched to outbursts of the highest order? Secretly, after listening to this album, you might wish that you were different from the average metalhead. Without imposing too negative a connotation on phrases like “average” and “ordinary” it may, however, be a barrier to being open to the regeneration this album has to offer.
Till Death continues the grueling cadence. And now it seems, indeed, as if the Scottish singer Shirley Manson (Garbage) has appeared on the proverbial stage. But there is really no question of a guest contribution here. The further the song progresses, the more shocking the similarity seems to be. The music itself, with added keyboard work, exciting drumming and dark riff violence manages to create a nice form for drama, which is immediately apparent during the first listen of the narrating The Mirror. Awesome how the great build-up, momentum, rest phases and thrilling climaxes have been thought through. Not easy songwriting, but extremely effective! While screaming, Dame Gardner reaches the end polyphonically. Not from being sexually aroused, but from pure misery, drama and experience, when the light goes out after more than six minutes. And that happens to arouse me.
The screaming Handless Maiden is not an average song either, but seems to function more as an intermediate phase to split this album into two parts. This also appears from the idiosyncratic, crazy Eyes Open, driving you insane. The dramatic sounding instrumentation, in which the keyboards play a pivotal role, is supported by a bit of tremolo, dark guitar riffs and soul-shattering vocal eruptions. Towards the end some demonically drawn out screaming seems to surface in the background. That’s just what I was waiting for! The track Generate is of a slightly different order, although the flair for tremolo guitar masturbation remains intact here too. The vocals again sound as if Amber Gardner has transformed into a completely different person. From warm, calm, drawn out and somewhat nagging to the well-known erratic screaming sounds. Of course we already know this trick from a band like Everson Poe, but the way it was been given life here commands at the very least a lot of respect.
And then the album ends with the ten-minute long The Wounded Healer, to which I already referred at the beginning of my description. All the previously described influences come together with the addition of the insane vocals sounding even more possessed and tormented. The emotion, however, prevails towards the end when an ethereal mantra in various vocal textures calms your mood, although the screaming remains in the background. An anointing for your touched soul is at hand.
No disrespect to the fellow metalheads who don’t grasp or understand this, but this simply needs to be heard, even if only once. Welcome to the regenerative world of GUHTS, where menacing, mesmerizing and obstinate crescendos await you.
Seeing Red Records, 2024
- White Noise
- Till Death
- The Mirror
- Handless Maiden
- Eyes Open
- The Wounded Healer
- Amber Gardner – Vocals
- Scott Prater – Guitars
- Daniel Martinez – Bass
- Brian Clemens – Drums