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Gjoad - Samanōn

by Chris Hawkins at 14 December 2020, 6:11 PM

GJOAD is a three-piece from Austria.  I found it extremely difficult to obtain any real background information on the group as they don’t even have a Facebook page.  Nonetheless, their debut, “Samanōn,” is an intriguing album with invitations of promise to those who admire sweeping soundscapes and epic visions born from such haunting atmosphere.

Things start off extremely atmospheric bordering on a soundtrack-like quality for a good portion of the opening track, “Rouh”.  Random chimes, feedback swells, and finally, clean guitar converge to frame this beginning.  Admittedly, it is a slow, deliberate start, and the first real sign of things getting off the ground are some resolute clean guitar strums, but alas, even after that melee of drama, it is not until well after five minutes before the arrival of acoustic guitars bringing to fruition such a regal, majestic melodic idea.  It wasn’t until after most of the song had thus transpired that I made the connection that: first, this was bound to net get heavy, and second, my preconceived notions, as vapid as they were, became annihilated whilst listening to this.  Around the ten-minute mark, things do get heavy briefly in a very atmospheric fashion in that there is a universal motif of chords manifested at once purposely coloring everything a most stoic grey.

It becomes clear that this is quite the ambitious project not meant for the casual listener.  We all have our moments of wearing that particular hat, and suffice to say, GJOAD is about as easily accessible for anywhere at anytime as GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR is for workout music.  In such an undertaking, it is essential to have solid production since there are so many myriad shades of sound occurring.  Regarding this department, GJOAD have hit pay dirt for the only limits to the scope of sound on this album are those of your own imagination.  A firm foundation of percussion and the main melodic idea(s) is the springboard off of which everything else dives into the vast pool of swirling, churning music.

Peraht,” the second track, proves that the band is even more judicious, if not meticulous, than the sprawling first track hinted at.  At just under ten minutes, it offers ample time for the band to explore this area of the composition and although there is plenty of atmosphere, it is hard to become truly ensnare by the track as it comes off as an extremely extended intro save for its final three minutes or so when the song finally opens up.  In that respect, patient ears are rewarded with a haunting instrumental that would fit perfectly on ANATHEMA’s brilliant “Eternity” record.  ANATHEMA has/had the upper hand in terms of songwriting proficiency employing captivatingly mesmerizing upwellings of emotion charged with cruelly poignant heartbreak and heightened by effective peaks and valleys.  GJOAD has the jamming part of being a band down, but it would do them well to condense some of their ideas.

Even a couple of decades ago when listeners were decidedly less impatiently fickle, an album of five songs averaging seven minutes each would have been a tough sell.  Something tells me, though, that this band is not seeking commercial compensation but rather chasing a collective dream shared by its members.  What the band must do now, though, is determine the best of that dream and refine it for otherwise, the material will forever come across as an ambient/soundtrack-like project rather than a compendium of song.  Perhaps it all comes down to artistic deference, knowing when to fight battles and when to retreat.  Music is a very personal, subjective art and so I thus cannot pan the album for the members answering the proverbial call of the muse.  When the band hits on the more powerful moments that feel more song-like, it is pure gold.  Having demonstrated that skill set, no matter how briefly or interspersed with extended sections of musical meandering, GJOAD have shown the greatness they are capable of, effectively teasing the listener.  Hopefully, the band will tighten things up and make the phenomenal album that is clearly within their reach.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Rough
2. Peraht
3. Gartsang
4. Hagazussa
5. Untar
Günter – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Hubert – Guitar
Philipp – Bass
Record Label: Antiq Records


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