I’ve always found the trend of softer bands using heavy-as-fuck album and song titles interesting. Perhaps I’m just thinking of The Pixies with a song like “Gigantic” when, at the time, they were anything but, or maybe that albino from The Arcade Fire getting all pissy on Saturday Night Live and smashing his acoustic. Either way, I’ve always noted a kind of movement that was either grasping at irony or bands coming to terms with their shame as wimpy indie rock. These contrasts interest me. I’m sure there are more I just find it hard to think of them. Nevertheless, Ghost of the Russian Empire named their album The Mammoth, and on the outset there seems little that would indicate that they are indeed mammoth in any sense. The only thing the band seem to be heavy on is the reverb.
GOTRE, to sum it up, play a kind of dirge-pop. One that is filled with emotional ambiguity when not stuck on infernal sadness, one that can likely be derived from countless listens of Amnesiac. While much of the sounds of this album swing aimlessly in expansiveness, the bass lines are refreshingly polished, the same goes with the drums, tight and perfected.
But upon further exploration, there is somewhat of an emotional weightiness to it that I’ve yet to see in other bands of this ilk in recent years. Some of the lyrics are simplistic and implied as low-priority since they’re indecipherably sung in whimsical croons. Still, GOTRE have a way of creating odd soundscapes with brief lyrics that read like vignettes of inner anxiety and apocalyptic turmoil which is effective if one pictures a narrator helplessly fretting in some one-colored room about disasters that have yet to happen but senses that they are on the verge within moments.
The titles further reflect the midnight-in-America vibes sounding as if they were throwaways from Robert A. Heinlein or Theodore Sturgeon. It’s difficult for me to say what song really stands out. They are all consistent with the band’s threefold post-punk aesthetic, but it’s the little things that stick out. “Bleeding Machines” uses a great plug-in feedback intro that, although not new in anyway, is riveting. The title tack sounds the most optimistic, and in some ways it is, in a sense that, while everything is fucked up beyond repair, there is still a sense of satisfaction and reverie before trotting off into some kind of doom.
Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
Chapterhouse – Whirlpool
Swervedriver – Raise