Gorthaur is the black metal side project of Visions of Ulnahar. With that knowledge, what can we glean from Gorthaur? Despite having a Tolkien inspired name, Gorthaur is very much a Lovecraftian black metal band. Om Cmapцeв (... from the Old Ones) is a tour de force of Lovecraftian horror. While Gorthaur doesn’t go down the mind bending corridors that Visions of Ulnahar does, there is still a lot of material to dig through and decipher. I’ll likely be making a lot of comparisons between the two projects so in order for you to fully understand what I’m talking about I would strongly suggest you listen to both projects. They are separate entities yet they are intrinsically bound together.
From the Old Ones examines more of the literature side of Lovecraft than the occultic side that Visions of Ulnahar’s material is based on. From the Old Ones is an album that a Lovecraft fan would enjoy, but also an album that a newcomer can appreciate. It delves heavily into the themes and motifs found in Lovecraft literature yet the music is still accessible enough that a casual fan of black metal or occultic metal can enjoy the feeling of the album.
I expected the album to be quite raw in production, being very familiar with the production values of Visions of Ulnahar. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the album’s production was actually a pretty good. It doesn’t have “major studio” production but it has enough to sound clean and crisp. It’s still raw around the edges, giving it a really good atmosphere. The sound sometimes borders on epic but it never quite gets there. I think that’s good because Lovecraft and the themes and motifs found therein aren’t made for an epic sound. Nile sometimes flirts with an epic sound but they never really take the dive. Neither does Gorthaur. Gorthaur takes a lot of cues from the occultic sound that Visions of Ulnahar produces. I wouldn’t call it occultic black metal but it has enough elements of that genre to set it apart from the rest of the Lovecraftian metal out there. It sits between occultic and epic, teetering on a precipice. At times on the album I thought it might fall over into one category and the uniqueness and scratchy beauty of the album would be lost, but it never does fall. I sincerely hope that any future album they make follows a similar formula. Sit between the worlds and you shall find where you truly belong.
The music is engaging and fun, it’s not the kind of metal you headbang to but it’s great nonetheless. The music is very thought provoking; it engages more with the mind of the listener than the body. Through From the Old Ones we are given a unique interpretation of Lovecraft and the madness that he wove into his stories. Lovecraftian music, I think, has a much harder time capturing the feelings of madness, dread, and horror, than Lovecraftian literature but I also think that the music has the greater potential for those feelings. Each album, each project, has to work hard at creating something, or rather recreating something but making it stand out and making it special. Gorthaur is absolutely on the right track here with From the Old Ones. They have some kinks here and there to work out yet I have confidence that sounds will be crisper and darker, that the themes will delve deeper into Lovecraftian literature to find the gems that everyone has overlooked, and that all of the chaos can be channeled perfectly into an album. They are well on their way, this is but the first step of a great and long journey.
Highlights: The Nameless City. Cthulhu Rising
If you enjoyed this try: Visions of Ulnahar, Noir, Odal
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