Okay, I've returned to the album over the weekend and written down some thoughts. I'm not completely convinced that I've nailed it, but hopefully this will give you some idea as to where the hell I'm coming from.
I thought it best to write a review:
Great monoliths swirl ambiguously, far above in the darkened skies. A low murmur echoes in a vast area pitted with towers that hide the ground from the bringer of light. From above, the way the bird flies, the tiny creatures that swarm amongst this abode take the significance of ants fleeing in an unpredictable manner from one spot to the next. Whilst such meaningless commotion grinds on within this giant machine, a soul wanders all alone, confused and looking for a sign that anything is real within this artificial world of grey, hoping one day to understand…
Germany’s Golem, with their 2004 opus ‘Dreamweaver’ have created a perplexing atmosphere that is doused in the artificiality of a machine-like world, yet a place where it is possible that dreams can pervade and weave majestically throughout this desolate landscape, only seen by those with a keen eye for Beauty. On this level, the basis of the album isn’t too far estranged from Blut Aus Nord’s “The Work Which Transforms God”, but as we will see Golem implement an approach that differs from that of the said band’s twisted dissonance.
Most likely the first realisation that will be made by the listener is towards the production - it is dry, lifeless and for the most part invariant. It is reminiscent of something that a Metalcore band might employ, but by some bizarre act of irony it seems to work quite well in this context. Like a miracle it conjures images steeped in a greyish tinge. When mixed with the angular, staccato riffs which are taken straight out of the book of Carcass circa ‘Necroticism’ they are made to sound rigid in their flow, as if bound to a corresponding entity. The band drive the flat, detuned, toneless palm-muted rhythm sound right into the ground. The eminent theme of greyness is likely to draw forth images of something metallic. At times the band sound washed out, perhaps this is accentuated by the reverb effect that they attach to some of their phrasing. The rigidity and routine nature of the riffing, when mixed with this facet, resembles a machine as it churns along heartlessly at its programmed labour.
The laborious nature of production doesn’t end there. The drum sound is ridiculously over-produced, so much so that it is tinny and flat. There isn’t a great deal of variation in technique either – expect an occasional blast section, accompanied by the usual Metal double-kick, snare and cymbal idiom elsewhere. Thus, again it sounds like a jumble of machine code whirling inside the chipboard of a robot as it performs some sort of perfunctory task, ad nauseam into infinity.
There was a brief mention of the reverb soaked phrasing above, this is used in correlation with the arpeggios, thus these sound washed out - which reminds me of the lonely depressed intermissions of the Black Metal variety, in particular those of Manes least bombastic moments. The band uses these for relief, and they fit in cosily with the grey theme, but this also gives the feeling of contemplation and solitude. When juxtaposed against the swirling nature of the Morbid Angel-esque (latter day) blast sections, the aforementioned Carcassisms and drawn out tremolo sections it gives the impression of a soul wandering through a monstrous city, full of alien structures, garnished with lifeless people machine-coded as slaves. It is here that the listener is given a glimpse of the crushing feeling of loneliness and social incongruity.
On the contrary to the more dissonant riffing is the exquisite lead-work. This is particularly reminiscent of its Heavy Metal roots ala those of Michael Amott. Although, at times there is a slight ‘folkish’ tinge of Germanic origin here and there, which takes the style a little further. As mentioned, this is in complete contrast to the surging Death Metal sections, the depression fuelled arpeggios and the occasional traditional Doom inspired motif. Thus, it acquires an almost joyous air through this contrast. The feeling is of a dream weaving unimpeded through a hostile landscape. At the beginning of the album these moments are of a brief duration – the band quickly reverting to a more chaotic style. This emanates images of something lost amongst a rabble of incomprehensible forces. But, these ‘indicators of Beauty’ become more and more frequent as this musical journey proceeds to its climax. It is almost as if it were an analogy that not only can Beauty be found as long as life persists, no matter how much we try to surround our world with artificial trappings, but the more that Beauty is pursued as an esoteric experience the more one can find it in their life – much like the teachings of Diotima in Plato’s ‘Symposium.’
All of this being said, there are some shortcomings to the album, despite it communicating some solid ideas. It may be said that the band does not go nearly far enough with the style and at times when they do it is forced and stale. There are also a few too many bland ‘half’ riffs that make some sections formulaic and predictable. But, there are plenty of ideas that are worthy of further exploration and development. Perhaps a lack of creative spirit was what stopped the band from writing an out and out classic.