Wednesday, 24th January 2018. 2:38:16am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Gothic - Grim


Artist: Gothic
CD Title: Grim
Label: self-released
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 9/4/04

Oozing pretentiousness with a website biography that scrolls for pages discussing their artistic intentions, Gothic is an Italian band with a 15-year history and a discography containing nearly a dozen albums. The band's 11th offering, Grim, takes their sound in a new direction with an overly ambitious two-disc work of experimental goth/industrial/metal/electronic compositions divided into two "acts" complete with additional multimedia. Unfortunately, despite a few appearances of motif-filled songwriting that is sometimes intricate and occasionally interesting, the double disc set is a poorly mixed lo-fi mess of random misguided eclectic experimental tendencies and sloppy performances/programming that doesn't even come close to reaching the band's lofty ambitions.

Disc 1 is an introduction to the band's stylistic blend of sloppy off-tempo electronic drums and drum loops, equally off-tempo cheesy lo-fi keyboards and guitars, and unintelligible and often unintentionally humorous quirky high and moody low vocal work. Clocking in at 75 minutes and containing 6 songs along with a gimmicky and completely unnecessary 69 blank tracks before the final song, the first disc is fairly hit and miss, mostly the latter. At its best, it's an intricately written dance industrial/experimental/goth rock hybrid with a few interesting recurring melodies, occasionally proficient lead guitar work, and fairly decent experimental sound processing. At its worst (which, unfortunately, happens to make up much of the disc), you'll find poorly performed lo-fi material and amateur experimentalism. These tracks, often rambling on for more than ten minutes, vary from random meandering keyboard lines using the cheesiest lo-fi patches their keyboards have to offer to drum pad noodling with very little sense of timing to simply randomly switching between pre-programmed default keyboard dance drum loops by button mashing. If your cat has ever walked across your $100 Casio keyboard, you'll probably find at least one facet of the band's sound oddly familiar. Somewhere in between the album's two extremes, you'll find whimsical circus-esque keyboard melodies and material slightly reminiscent of the cheesiest remnants of 70s/80s Italian horror film music. Many tracks run through all three categories, with songs like "Forlorn" and "I Give Up (Defeat's Dance)" having their share of both interesting musical moments and horrible off-tempo experimentation. The vocals on "Winteren Wings" attempt something of a Rozz Williams inflection but come off hilariously goofy, sounding more like The Sugarcubes' Einar Orn. By about the third song, I was wondering if the band's sound was meant to be some sort of tongue-in-cheek musical blend, but their straight-faced mission statement and ambitious two-disc endeavor complete with multimedia presentation seemed to negate that idea.

Disc 2 is mercifully shorter at only 52 minutes, but it contains 90 tracks…all of which are, again, blank, with the exception of 9 songs. Kudos to the band for using the same dated gimmick twice on one album. However, to the band's credit, the second disc has a few slightly more noteworthy tracks between fairly random-sounding off-tempo performances akin to what's on the first disc. "Down In Your Shrine" could have been a fairly decent deathrock track if it left out the dated default keyboard dance drum loops and cheesy production. "Barren Moors" is a more cohesive and on-tempo (due to largely being programmed rather than performed) dance industrial number with some decent guitar work but laughable vocal growls. "Victim of Distress" is a relatively well written and moderately performed attempt at an industrial/goth rock epic. Still, at best, the second disc sounds like a few amateur demos (something I wouldn't mind if not for the fact that Grim is a 15-year-old band trying to pass this off as a pretentious 2-disc artistic masterpiece) surrounded by barely bearable random experimentation.

In the end, Gothic's potential to be an average goth rock or industrial band is heavily obscured by often unexceptional songwriting, bad production, and more than their fair share of misguided lo-fi experimental tendencies. Granted, part of the album's problem could be attributed to its amateur demo-ish recording quality and extremely sloppy performances, problems I can usually overlook if there's enough substance to back it up. I'm certainly no stranger to experimental music or lo-fi recordings myself. Unfortunately, there are far more flaws here than redeeming qualities, and the mention on their website of their fairly decent digital home studio and equipment makes the veteran band's amateur programming/performances, random lo-fi keyboard meandering, and poor mixing all the more baffling. Some of the more concrete material here shows at least a minute glimmer of promise, but again, the negative far outweighs the positive. While I'm certainly not fond of writing completely bad reviews and rarely if ever do, I can't, in good conscience, recommend this album to anyone who still has their hearing. Grim is not just bad. It's two whole hours of bad.

 

Gothic website: www.gothicdimension.com

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