As most of you are aware by now, vocals don’t really hold much sway over my appreciation for music any more. If a band can create a piece that not only retains interest but takes you on a journey of sorts without the use of lyrics, I’m inclined to give them due credit. On their self-titled debut release, German 4-piece The Great Cold have delivered what could be the finest instrumental album of 2016 so far. This was one of those releases that you stumble upon without actively seeking it. Most of the time for me that involves a cursory click and what could be generously described as a sufficient amount of listening time to judge whether or not I’ll bother to continue. As TovH scholar Max discovered last year, attempting to listen to every new metal release is nigh on ridiculous. Even if you only dedicate a mere 30 seconds to discern if the sound interests you, time can quickly slip away and you’re left having listened to hours of accumulated tripe. Bands like The Great Cold who lead their album with a strong track clearly know what they’re doing in this regard. The track “Eos” is a testament to that and is fairly indicative of what you can expect for the remaining 35 minutes.
“Atmospheric black metal meets the post-metal approach of fellow Germans The Ocean with some prog elements moseying around the edges,” is probably the most relatable description I can offer you. For the most part, the spirited atmosphere is provided by the guitars, which I usually prefer to synth-derived ambiance that can have a tendency to leave tracks feeling less than organic. The overall melodic trend feels quite airy and drifts across the space above the riffs, rather than directly coating them. While the mist’s fall may feel gentle, by the time the refrains have concluded you will still be soaked with the remnant memories.
Throughout the album there are some recurring motifs. One of the most noticeable of these is the soothing dream-like passage that settles in around the 2:00 mark of album opener “Eos,” which is later reprised in an altered manner for the interlude “Chione.” The stylish playing resembles that of the exceptional Sunset In The 12th House (review) album from last year. However, where the Romanian band opted for a grandiose theme, The Great Cold have instead delicately kept the piece on the demure side of things. At the other end of the spectrum are tracks “Oread,” “Aurai,” and the penultimate piece “Asteriai,” which offer some of the heavier moments on the album. These tracks feature a buffeting of palm-muted riffing with the bass drums snapping in unison to the chugs and a variety of lofty chordal sequences that make sure you don’t fall too deeply into any kind of reverie.
While my ancient history knowledge is quite weak relative to some of the other writers here (namely the eminent Dr W. and scholar Link), I can tell you that the song names are all related to figures from Greek mythology, most of whom were nymphs of various things such as wind or cold. Appropriate. Although, I feel that without a more intimate knowledge or their respective mythos, it’s somewhat irrelevant to the listener’s experience. Not a big deal though, as the music does a good enough job of captivating the mind. On the whole, this is an accomplished debut that displays some skilled songwriting and style.
3/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
The Great Cold was released independently on February 21st 2016 and is name your price on bandcamp.