I have to admit that it took me a little while to warm up to Gholas's album, Litanies. At first blush, it seemed like perfectly adequate post-metal with hardcore-style vocals and a pleasant hint of Neurosis. Worth a listen, but not something I necessarily would come back to. On repeated listens, though, I found more and more to dig into.
What Gholas does best is keep things moving. A common failure among lesser post-metal bands is to grind away on an idea until there's nothing left, making albums chock-full of 9-minute songs that feel like they're each 20 minutes long. Gholas's riffs are fairly straightforward, but the band fluidly moves from one drone-like riff to the next without letting them get stale. There are a few missteps--the doomy, single-note riff in "Calls Out to the Supplicants" overstays its welcome, in spite of being in the shortest song on the album--but by and large the band's instincts are good, and they don't dwell at the listener's expense.
Even when the band decides to go epic, like in the 10-plus-minute "The Sleeper," they throw in plenty of musical interest if you're willing to put in the time to pick the subtleties out. There's a slow build out of a mostly ambient start into some truly lovely guitar lines. The drummer uses simple but fantastically effective dynamics to propel the song along, and the band even shifts gears into a bit of funeral doom, complete with basement-low growls, before letting the song drift away into a peaceful, fuzzy bliss. Any lull is quickly dispelled by album-closer "The Fighter," which starts out on full blast and, in spite of some experimental, ambient passages, remains one of the heaviest tracks on the album.
This album is definitely worth a try if you enjoy this style of metal, and in fact, I'd say deserves at least a few listens so you can start to pick up what's going on under the surface.
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