¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Back in print on vinyl!
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Finnish avant-metal label Blood Music has really cornered the market on heavy, dark and aggressive synthwave lately, reissuing the entire back catalog from Parisian synthwave celeb Perturbator, and putting out the latest album from sci-fi electro-prog master Dan Terminus. But the most monstrous sounding synthwave to appear via Blood Music yet might be Gost, an American artist who popped up seemingly out of nowhere towards the end of 2015 and dropped this massive slab of malevolent dark synthwave on our heads. Described by the label as "1980s black metal-inspired retro slasher exploitation, starring the demonic entity Baalberith as GosT, casting ample devious nods towards Perturbator, Goblin, Justice and Bathory", this stuff is most definitely speaking my language. Granted, that overheated label blurb suggests that there might be something more metallic going on with Gost's sound (which there isn't), but the iconography is all there, with an album cover that looks like something that could have come off a death metal record, track titles like "Reign In Hell" and "Bathory Bitch", and an overall atmosphere of pending violence and apocalyptic dread.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† But the music is pure electro, another throwback to that vintage 80's-era synthesizer sound that shares a lot in common with labelmates Perturbator (who shows up here with a neat, almost Skinny Puppy-esque remix of the title track) and the equally dark Carpenter Brut. The music on Behemoth does feel a bit heavier than that stuff, though, the synths often distorted into crunchy, grinding electronic riffs, bringing a particularly filthy bass sound to this stuff that feels informed by dubstep, the drum programming heavy and pummeling, the tracks often shot up with harsh atonal stabs and weird ghostly vocal pads. It's definitely menacing stuff, a relentless pounding assault of dancefloor delirium, but like just about goddamn synthwave album, it has that one moody disco track that features a guest female vocalist, this one being "Without A Trace". It's pretty infectious, I have to admit, a blast of earworm synthpop dropped into the middle of the rest of Gost's sinister, distorted synthwave stomp. The album's best track though is the title song, which sticks out from the rest of the album with it's barrage of piercing, atonal synths and blasting demonic choral voices screaming over an insanely distorted synth riff, so heavy that it actually starts to sound like some kind of industrial metal, especially when it drops into a grinding mid-tempo groove in it's second half, producing what is easily the heaviest and most aggressive track on here. I would have loved to have heard more in that vein. Aside from that crusher, though, there's nothing here that rattles the current synthwave paradigm, but if you dig this sort of dark, nostalgic electronica as much as I do (which is a lot), Behemoth offers an excellent dose of what you're craving, with a grimmer and meaner vibe than most.