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Gourd – The Emptied Wastes

The Emptied Wastes
by Gary Hernandez at 25 October 2020, 4:03 PM

There’s a lot going on in the metal scene, most of all because there’s a lot going on in heads of the people who have a predilection to make it and an unquenchable thirst of the metal masses to consume it. I am always amazed at the intellectual, spiritual, and emotional depth of metal. Metal artists tend to go way deep. And nowhere does it get deeper and stranger than in the Experimental Metal space. Allow me to introduce you to GOURD, an Experimental Metal duo out of Ireland. Where in Ireland? I don’t know, just Ireland. As a band the two have at least three EPs to their credit, including their most recent release, “The Emptied Wastes,” issued on Cursed Monk Records on September 4, 2020.

A number of sites identify them as an audio/visual project. While you won’t find them in Encyclopedeia Metallum (The Metal Archives), you will find them in The Irish Metal Archives. In fact, there you’ll find links to twelve of their videos. So, if you’re interested in following-up on the visual aspect of this band, that’s where to look. In fact, I’m not sure it’s all together fair to review them on an audio basis alone, but when did I ever promise you a rose garden? Tangent: Apparently, at some point in the history of the world (1974) a rose garden was the epitome of lofty expectations.

There’s a lot of ways to describe this band and their musical output, and none of them are aesthetically appealing, at least not in the commonly accepted usage of that term. The most befitting phrase I found was “somewhat challenging.” This isn’t to say it’s bad, just hard to accommodate. The best way to explain their essence might be to use the Lovecraftian technique and say it is unspeakable or unnamable and then let your imagination fill in the space. But that doesn’t quite do the trick either. The term Lovecraftian, after all, has its own baggage. Let me put all that aside and see if I can’t sneak up in it another way.

“The Emptied Wastes” includes five tracks that are tied together by a centralized theme of death and despair. There’s lots of disturbing and grating ambient noise going on, making the EP very hard to listen to with full-on attention. Even in the background it’s hard to bear. Words like unsettling, disquieting, and unnerving come to mind. I wouldn’t call it inherently evil. It has more of an industrial taint — and not industrial as in the metal subgenre, but industrial as in an abandoned warehouse with heavy chains and ominous machinery and the smell of standing water and rust.

This EP sounds like mental anguish . . . which is different than Black Metal goat worshipping and worlds apart from the vacuous intonations of Doom. It lacks the insistency of riffs or phrasing and the congruity of any discernable melody. But here is my theory: Through the unrelenting bedlam and discord there is the supplication of harmony. Absence of harmony begs harmony. This album comes across like the prayer of the damned. If you’re into that . . . well, as James Brown said, papa gotta brand new bag.

Favorite tracks? Not going there. Five tracks, thirty-seven minutes, disturbing stuff moving at various velocities from hellscape to piercing to numbing. If you’re looking for a Halloween soundtrack, this might be it, though most people approach the holiday from a novelty angle and there ain’t nothing novelty about “The Emptied Wastes.” In fact, it might be the perfect cure for the hangover, teenage angst, and male pattern baldness.

Altogether, “The Emptied Wastes” is a tough piece of art to absorb. It’s hard to look at and equally hard to look away from. Does it have something important to say? Probably, but that’s up to you to decide. For those who are into dark, experimental and who have a strong constitution, you should give it a try.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 6
Production:  6

3 Star Rating

  1. The Emptied Wastes
  2. Oscillatory Death Warp
  3. Urn Within Which You Lie
  4. Powerlessness Of Dying Limbs
  5. A Lamentable Lot
Hick – Vocals, guitar, noise
Ray – Drums, noise, visuals
Record Label: Cursed Monk Records


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