What did you say? More underground knuckle-dragging basement death metal demos? Sure thing. Our HM-2 heroes of the day are Gosudar, a primitive rotting death metal outfit who’s carnal sonics are here to take over the airwaves.
Currently bestowed upon the chopping block are Gosudar, and not much is known about them. Alike many other basement bands, Gosudar are stereotypically underground. We know they’re from Moscow, and… that’s pretty much it. Good stuff. Oh yeah, “gosudar” means something to the likes of “prince” in Russian.
Two tracks are bestowed upon us through this release, aptly reigning without title, however these numbers date all the way back to November 2018, where they debuted digitally via Gosudar’s Bandcamp page. “King of Pain” and “Anathema” (talk about opposite ends of the diction spectrum) are the only two relics we have of Gosudar’s existence, so let’s analyze them thoroughly. This will be a bite-sized article, as there’s no band history to go on and there’s really only nine minutes of music here.
“King of Pain” opens the demo with cryptic force, showing off Gosudar’s demonstration of a more patient pace. The track is actually laid out quite nicely, as its main strong suit stems off its incorporation of recurring instrumentational themes. What a sentence; the track repeats a lot but in different ways. Gander a listen if you’d like.
The two noticeable occurrences of these reoccurrences are through the track’s opening segment, as well as the building-upon of the main riff. As mentioned above, this eerie and cryptic introductory portion really sets the tone for the work, and ultimately the morbid harmony returns in part during the track’s conclusion, which is a nice touch. Secondly, the main riff used to commence the track’s infestation of the ears is molded and shaped to Gosudar’s liking throughout the endeavour, as the guitar piece shifts in form throughout the first half of the song. I feel like this sonic recurrence is a prominent reason why this is a such a strong number, especially since it accentuates the demo’s filthy production, which will be touched upon later in the review.
Our sister track is “Anathema,” in simple terms meaning someone that is vehemently hated, with a more complex secondary definition meaning an allusion to a denouncing doctrine made to an individual by the church; in other words, excommunication.
“Anathema” takes similar form to more standard death metal outputs, as its faster pace limits the song stylistically. However, Gosudar certainly make room for creativity. The song’s eruption in the form of a dripping lead guitar solo makes way for a halting of sound, of which suspense is built through the barely unnoticeable tune of a faint guitar riff playing in the background. This interlude of sorts is then broken by the sound of an operatic speech of the spoken-word variety, which is a technique that seems to be a major hit within Russian metal as of late. I recently reviewed Ulvdalir’s black metal full-length, and they incorporated this sampling technique, of which sounds like it might be from the same source. It probably isn’t, but perhaps there’s some sort of Russian church chant that serves as a major inspiration for these guys and I’m missing the mark here, who knows.
The incorporation succeeds on a multitude of levels, as it introduces an extra layer of depth to their work from a sonic perspective, its also a potential source of underlying thematic presence (if I could figure out where the audio sample comes from), and simply bumps up the demo from a creativity perspective. Prior to this inclusion, this was just another knuckle-dragging death metal demo, and now its slightly more than that. Well, its still knuckle-dragging death metal but there’s a little more character here now, which makes me all that much more excited for the group’s future work.
The only potential qualm I have with the release lies behind its production quality, but I’m obviously not going to dwell on this factor due to the nature of the work. This is a demo, and the release is really only meant to serve as a preliminary demonstration of the band’s sound. However, with the evolution of technology and the music landscape, modern demos are often held to a much higher standard, as most can be considered EPs due to their higher general quality, relative to back in the early ‘80s when demos were literally just demonstrations. In short, this is a demo and the sound quality isn’t the best. The drums are barely audible and the guitars could use a little more oomph, but these factors are negligible.
The overall feel of the demo reminds me of Tomb Mold’s earliest outputs. Their two preliminary demos (The Bottomless Perdition and The Moulting) sounded a lot like Gosudar’s, what with the basement-quality production and whatnot. There’s something about Gosudar’s music that screams “potential,” but its too early to say. Hopefully they’ll come out with a split or an EP of sorts within the coming future, so that a proper analyzation of their sound can occur. For now, support these guys on Bandcamp (the cassette is up on Rotted Life Records) and keep them under your radar.
Check out the demo via Rotted Life’s Bandcamp page.