Photo by Frank Ralph
In 2020, Godthrymm dropped their debut album Reflections, a massive slab of proper doom worthy of a spot among the genre’s giants. With the bar already set high, the band returns in 2023 with their second full-length, Distortions, the next album in their Visions trilogy. Steered by ex-My Dying Bride members Hamish Glencross and Shaun “Winter” Taylor-Steels, Godthrymm takes the classic 90’s British doom template and turns it into something more purposeful.
All of the little quirks of Reflections are tightened up on this new release. Gone are the stoner guitar tones that didn’t quite fit the classic vibe of the riffs, the dark production, and the awkward use of phaser. Keeping the minimalist arrangements intact, Distortions immediately feels more focused and mature. Opening with the monolithic track “As Titans,” the band channels their collective decades of misery into eleven minutes. This brand of doom should feel like an unstoppable wave, and the massive weight of “Echoes” and “Obsess and Regress,” crush both the soul and the ears. “Unseen, Unheard” varies the pace with a short galloping melodeath passage that feels like a nod to Reflections. Overall, Hamish reigns in his vocals on this record for a cleaner sound compared to his previous work. The album, however, doesn’t truly peak until the last two tracks.
“Follow Me,” features the familiar voice of My Dying Bride frontman Aaron Stainthorpe. Clocking in at nearly thirteen minutes, this song feels like a lost cut from 2012’s A Map of All Our Failures, in the most beautiful and melancholic way, from the intro riff to the dark harmonized outro. You could argue it’s too much like MDB to have a place here, but that’s not a bad thing when three current and former members of the band are on it.
The final song, “Pictures Remain” puts keys/vocalist Catherine Glencross front and center, in a track that feels like it could’ve been arranged by Swallow the Sun or its offshoot, Trees of Eternity. Lead by glistening clean guitars and harmonized vocals, this is the big ambient moment that the album had been building up to for nearly an hour, but waits to deliver until the last six minutes.
The only snag is that one song, “Devils,” feels a bit out of place, with a stoner feel to the riff. It’s not a bad riff by any means, but this is just not that brand of doom. Of course, it never gets too over the top, but for an album and genre that is so dependent on mood and atmosphere, this song almost spoils it, especially after being steamrolled by the overwhelming opener, “As Titans.” To be clear, “Devils” is a fantastic song, but would have probably worked better as a non-album single.
Overall, Distortions is a worthy successor to Reflections. It’s the moody companion to their debut, more contemplative than riffy. Where Reflections was fueled by anger, Distortions is fueled by grief.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Review by: Tom Mis