Gaoth – ‘Gaoth’ (2016)

By: Jeff
Rating: 9/10
Release: 7/2016
Label: Independent

I think a lot of people may think most side projects are maybe cast off tracks from their main project or old stuff dusted off and reheated….. and in some cases this is true. This is definitely not the case with the debut album from Gaoth (my translation is Irish for “wind”). Gaoth is a one man project…. the man being one Fionn Stafford of the beyond epic Celtachor. Celtachor’s last album (2015’s “Nuada Of The Silver Arm”) was in my top 10 for last year and I can definitely see Gaoth being in my short list for best debut album of 2016. Does this have a similar sound to Celtachor? Not really……this is black metal at it’s finest. I guess I could compare it to Fuath (Andy Marshall’s side project from his primary one Saor) but with a few differences. The first is there is more of an atmospheric style and not as abrupt as I think the Fuath project is and the tracks tend to be shorter overall (The Fuath album tracks averaged 10 minutes in length in its 4 tracks) There are more tracks (9) here as well so a nice quantity to pair up with the quality of the music here with tracks ranging from 2 to 8 minutes. Maybe someone like Woods Of Desolation is a better comparison? Not sure how many of you are into black metal so any comparison may still not be enough for you to know what you are getting in to. Before the album is released in July you can check out one track on Bandcamp (“Will Of Mountains”) and get a sense of the impending annihilation. With over 50 minutes of music, this will be your soundtrack to being thrown in the blackest abyss with no hope for escape. From the opening track “Autumnal Breath” the droning riffs and half time feel of the drums are enough to send you into madness. When the keys and vocals come in, you will be facing your doom. Fionn’s vocals sound like they are straight from the pit on the other side of unknown world…. yes, otherworldly. Even with all of this dread and blackness, there is a musicality that is certainly evident. Intros and interludes (beginning of “Weeping Of The Fens” or the end of “Astral Paths” or “Waning Of The Years” amongst others) help build the anticipation of the darker material with an ambient vibe before the wave of darkness returns. A few guitar harmony parts really help seal the deal here as well (“Dying Season’s Glory” is one example) where the layers of guitars sound like a shrieking banshee in a cold forest at night. Scared yet? You shouldn’t be as this album still has an inviting, warm feel about it as if it seems familiar and not completely distant. This year has been chock full of heavy debut albums (Fuath and Sojourner are two) and this effort will certainly be in that short list for me. A stellar debut album and a guide to the unknown for those wanting to take the journey… should take the path Gaoth has laid out for you.

1. Autumnal Breath 7:09
2. Weeping of the Fens 7:28
3. Gaoth 7:58
4. Will of Mountains 7:43
5. Waning of the Years 2:18
6. Where Leaves Depart 4:08
7. Asthral Paths 6:29
8. Dying Season’s Glory 7:18
9. The Burning Horizon 3:58

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