Downfall of Gaia – Silhouettes of Disgust (Metal Blade Records)Monday, 13th March 2023
Post metal is quite the creatively freeing style. Having become more prevalent in the last five years or so, there’s a seemingly infinite number of genre combinations. One of the earlier purveyors is Hamburg’s Downfall of Gaia, who have been providing us with audible chaos since 2008. We come to their 6th full-length in Silhouettes of Disgust.
A mixture of sludge, doom, death metal, a pinch of crust/hardcore, and a high percentage of post metal ambiance, they’ve always been willing to expand their sound and take risks. No two albums are ever in danger of becoming a clone of past works. Their latest is no different, being a thickly layered offering which moves from the statically crushing to the reflective and nuanced.
The table is set by “Existence of Awe,” immediately hitting the listener with a big riff with a fuzzy guitar tone layered with subdued cleans. Moving towards the cinematic as the song briskly moves along, there’s a lot going on, so best to have a keen ear to catch every morsel. Songs like “A Whir of Flies” and “While Bloodsprings Become Rivers” engulf the listener with galloping guitars that drive proceedings into an almost black metal undertone, but not without plenty of somber, almost theatrical moments.
A brooding undertone is at the center of “Bodies as Driftwood,” beginning with a chilling introduction before swaying between the heavier and more understated. A subtle bass tone emphasizes the phenomenal female vocals courtesy of Lulu Black on the first half of “Eyes Burning to Skies,” before quickly taking a hard turn towards an emotive second half full of crust-inspired rawness. “Finals Vows” is more compact with effective stop/start instrumentation, leaning towards a sophisticated death metal tonality. “Unredeemable” is a slow burn with an energetic climax, while slowing to transition into “Optograms of Disgust,” which gives a little bit of everything, finishing with a flurry of tremolo-picked guitar work.
Downfall of Gaia possess a rare ability to mix a great many musical styles, while doing so in a refined, yet fierce manner. The number of time changes alone are hard to count, yet none are jerky or forced. A cinematic songwriting masterclass, Silhouettes of Disgust is a work by a band who is firing on all cylinders with no intention to let up. Uncompromising, intricate, and meaningful, Downfall of Gaia are an unstoppable force. Sit back and take this album in, as it’s a flowing piece that will take one on a winding journey you’ll be eager to repeat.