GLDN – First Blood EP
Release Date: 22/07/22
Running Time: 15:52
Review by Dark Juan
Well, today has been a right day of ups and downs, and it’s only 12:48 at the time of me settling to write some stuff that literally one person in Somalia reads. I will not be sated and will keep doing this until the mighty Ever-Metal.com juggernaut has conquered North Korea and the righteous power of metal topples the Kim dynasty and Juche communism is brought to an end, and the victory parades will celebrate the day a better world was won. Yes, that was a VNV Nation lyric I managed to shoehorn into a metal record review. Anyway, since I have got home from wrangling young gentlemen, I have had to take to task a fucking gammon dickhead for having a bash at my friend Sarah as she has an Eastern European surname, discovered that the biggest joke I have ever heard or seen is my current bank balance, had to warn a teenager about the dangers of sending unsolicited dick pics and the fact it will be all over social media in a day or two, and when the inevitable fallout happens it will be HIS OWN FAULT, and have had to make coffee in an effort to stimulate my poorly abused brain cells into some spasmodic form of life in order to provide you with concise and precise information about the Brooklyn, NY based GLDN and their latest EP, “First Blood”.
GLDN are the brainchild of one Nicholas Golden, who appears to be another of those really irritating bastards who can play everything and sing as well, and “First Blood” is the debut record from him. The blurb states that GLDN is, “An unnerving and rage filled world [of GLDN] where boundaries are pushed and your comfort is NOT paramount! Daring and transgressive, GLDN cannot be contained, nor put into a single musical category – with elements of industrial, metal, and crust punk with passionate and furious vocals.”
This is all well and good, but GLDN’s world actually appears to be tinkly-bwomp NIN-esque squelches with a Marilyn Manson aping baritone and a very similar sounding scratchy howl. It is neither daring nor transgressive. Daring and transgressive would be recording heavy metal records with hurdy-gurdies, and getting Katy Perry and one of these drill stars who wear sunglasses over balaclavas, and look fucking ridiculous, think they are dangerous when really they are a spotty teenager from rural Buckinghamshire with arms and legs like pipecleaners, and basically fuck about near a hired Lamborghini in their videos, which all seem to be filmed on the same street in Tower Hamlets [without actually touching it because just out of shot is an aggressive and angry owner with a baseball bat who has warned the youths to not touch it] while rapping about how shit their life has been and how they are scared they are going to get stabbed, and calling it Drill Metal and expecting the leather and denim and New Rock clad hordes to accept it without question.
Pardon me. I have digressed. Indeed, a number of the songs being offered on “First Blood” sound like “Antichrist Superstar” era Brian Warner bumping uglies with “The Downward Spiral” version of Trent Reznor.
Let us dwell upon that mental image for a moment or two.
Horrifying, isn’t it? Or possibly one for the wank bank, depending on your point of view.
The sound of GLDN is somewhat enhanced by some tasty, buzzing guitar, but too often this is cut up and the loud-quiet-loud dynamic sometimes wrecks some promising brutality by slowing everything down, so Nicholas can do his best Trent Reznor crooning over a bit of dissonant piano, or electronic wooshing. There’s no boundaries being pushed here. This EP sounds like the year 1996.
Opening offering ‘Gravedigger’ kicks off with an electronic beat and bassline before metallic guitar cuts in for 12 beats and the faux-emotional crooning starts, extremely reminiscent of the delivery of Filter’s Richard Patrick, and the chorus sounds like it could have been written by Deftones. The middle of the song has some throat mangling howling a la the God Of Fuck. In fact, the whole song sounds like “Title Of Record” era Filter. Not a bad influence to have, but it borders on copyism.
This continues on the title track. Pure Marilyn Manson, but a mix of Spooky Kids era Mazza and “Antichrist Superstar” including a lyric that could have been written by the man himself – “They always look so pretty when they’re on their knees.” It’s all overblown and perverse sexuality, wild gyrating, demented roaring, sequenced, layered and multi-tracked guitars and not very much substance. ‘Ripe’ is more of the same – dissonance, baritone rumbling, a simple bassline, lyrics about hypocrisy and lots of downtuned guitar and roaring on the chorus, before going to a swooping, gothic-tinged middle eight on the synth, and then a heavily-produced solo that’s just a load of drawn out notes rather than fretboard gymnastics that segues neatly back into the chorus. So far, so still Mazza Manson.
‘(harmful if swallowed)’ (sic) is a bit more interesting, with a piano playing a wrong note deliberately that increases the sense of menace in the music nicely, but it’s just a bridging piece, and that makes me fucking furious because the music and that harsh, dissonant piano could have been turned into something magnificent, and it has just been wasted.
‘This Must Be The Place’ is just a slightly more electronic Marilyn Manson song. I know I keep coming back to him, but this is the overwhelming influence I hear. This particular song would not sound out of place on “Antichrist Superstar”, even the chorus sounds like it belongs on the title track of that august record and would fit the song quite seamlessly. I’m struggling to contain my disappointment here. Normally I would launch into some horrible bullshit and be mean to Nicholas, but I have become acutely aware lately that I am trashing the art of creators and they pour their heart and soul into it. All I do is tell them that they are either a) very good at it, b) average, c) rubbish or d) Warrior Soul. Mainly because I am a faile… RETIRED musician who was REALLY shit at playing music and if you can’t do it you write about it instead. Unless you’re EM’s Rory. He can do both, the annoying knobjockey.
DISCLAIMER: Rory isn’t an annoying knobjockey. He is a fine gentleman. Rob Sutton is, though! Wink, wink…
Last offering on this six-tracker is ‘Parasite’ and it is far and away the best song on the EP, where he leaves Mazza alone for a bit and combines an aggressive, angry howl with a creepy clean voice, punchy, speedy drumming, and full on metal guitar with extra fizz and fuzz, lushly produced and brimming with a life all its own.
The EP does benefit from a decent production, with no one thing overpowering the other, but it has a curiously lifeless and flat quality that is difficult to describe, and although GLDN promise much in their press release, claiming elements of metal, industrial and crust punk, all I have heard is mainstream 1990s gothic industrial metal that the emo teens of the day would have gone fucking gaga over, that instead offers this grizzled old metal bastard a curiously warm and nostalgic feeling, rather than slavering excitement. It’s all a bit uninspiring, to be honest. I haven’t even got my old baggy Menace jeans out to relive the 1990s vibe.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is disappointed. It was expecting something visceral, wild and incendiary and instead got the spavined love child of Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson.
Which brings us back around neatly to that mental image we shared before.
02. First Blood
04. (harmful if swallowed) – This is not me having some kind of seizure and losing command of English. This is how it is written. It is making my internal grammar Nazi fucking FURIOUS!
05. This Must Be The Place
Nicholas Golden – Everything
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