Everything about the portrayal of Michigan based electronic artist GosT by the metal community and press seems to imply that their approach leans further towards more extreme genres. Promotion for the band included “Nineties black metal” in their music description, which is supported solely by the project’s mastermind deciding to adopt the rather kvlt moniker of “Baalberith.” Yet, despite the metal community’s fascination with GosT’s recent offering Behemoth, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly has caused the album to be considered such a “metal non-metal album.” If anything, Behemoth is a passable slab of retro dance music for people with a limited or nonexistent background with electronic music who are discovering the burgeoning retrofuturism movement.
Perhaps the central argument to be made for GosT’s metallic approach is the timbre of their synths, which do carry and admittedly heavy and eerie tone. If the retro dance tracks of Depeche Mode were remixed by the horror synth stylings of John Carpenter and then heavily distorted, it would resemble Behemoth’s apparent musical aspirations. Themes found on tracks such as ‘Night Crawler‘ could fit snuggly within Carpenter’s recent studio debut Lost Themes, as the progressive electronic pulse of the song is reminiscent of classic horror film soundtracks. It is important to note, though, that these stylings are more accurately labeled as accents rather than informing the main compositions of the album’s track listing. A majority of Behemoth’s songs are more akin to raving in the graveyard after a bad acid trip; beefy synths and driving percussion that thuds tirelessly into the listener’s head.
Unfortunately, the proverbial ecstasy loses its luster early on in Behemoth’s run time. Each track may solicit some gyration upon first listen, but subsequent spins reveal just how one-dimensional these compositions are. GosT may adjust the tempo and intensity slightly from track to track, but overall, the familiar formula of a boisterous synth riff aided by slight variations becomes apparent. ‘Without a Trace’ is a notable departure from this method, primarily due to the presence of Hayley Stewart – the sole guest vocalist on the entire album. The result is a genuinely well-written and complete track; one that explores multiple facets and accomplishes more than simple dancefloor fodder. However, other than this anomaly, lead singles ‘Master‘ & ‘Bathory Bitch‘ as well as the title track are the only offerings that warrant repeat visitations.
The literal foundation for this songwriting folly is the incessantly repetitive percussion that remains identical across every track. Critiquing all dance music for sounding homogenous may be an unjust adage, but virtually every track on Behemoth contains the exact same snare and kick drum pattern across tempo and tone. This not only causes the upbeat pace of the album to lose its impact with each track, but the absence of consistent percussive variation causes the album as a whole to blend together. Infectious hit singles may be the calling card of dance music, but successful artists in the genre are capable of cushioning these tracks with other ideas that present a certain level of artistry as opposed to a track listing stuffed with sweat inducement.
Behemoth leaves the listener in a state comparable to a raver during the bus ride home: exhausted and devoid of feeling. GosT’s style of simply making “heavy” dance music is not enough to make it metal or even all that worthwhile. Frankly, if the criterion is truly that low for awarding a “metal” designation, it seems as though dubstep should become a part of the metalhead rotation. Granted, Behemoth is not a mediocre album because of its lack of metal tendencies, but rather due to its undistinctive approach to songwriting that produces less than half an album of noteworthy material. Strangers to dance music may find some value in Behemoth, but seasoned listeners should know a plethora of better artists to seek out first.
GosT – Behemoth gets…