Gorefest – Mindloss (1991)

Before lapsing into embryonic death ’n’ roll on their second LP False (1992), Gorefest were among the earliest Dutch proponents of solid bread-and-butter death metal with a sense of melodic contour joining the many rhythm riffs into coherent songs which reach a point of focus in their cycles, forcing re-interpretation of its parts. The early style more or less complete on their demo recordings was brought to a fuller and more refined form on the 1991 debut album Mindloss.

Much like Morgoth from neighboring Germany, early Gorefest takes a cue from late eighties primitive North American death metal, with early Death as the common denominator between those wide-ranging influences. By infusing the chromatic savagery with underlying melody, Gorefest and Morgoth re-cast their influences into what would over time prove to be a distinctively European form of death metal that used distinguishably “European” melodies, much like early Sinister and Fleshcrawl.

Although both bands share a joint point of departure, the end results diverge significantly. The German’s strength lies in structural awareness and a penchant for dark, vibrant melodicism expressed through rapid streams of power chord-riffing that rides off into oblivion. On Resurrection Absurd (1989), Morgoth breaks up Schuldiner’s tightly-knit riff-cycles by interspersing variations on shorter phrases with longer melodies to create crude but strangely evocative musical short-stories.

Gorefest sets off in another direction –- crafting rhythmically simple, unabashedly catchy, forceful hymns to the unstoppable forces of decay — through a merger of primitive death metal and elements derived from classic heavy metal. It is a well-documented fact that similar attempts of hybridization have repeatedly resulted in less-than-satisfying material which too often gravitates towards rock music, but it works surprisingly well here since both parts fill a purpose relevant to the whole.

On the songs of Mindloss, death metal sets up the foundation, and the heavy metal bits give it an energy that it otherwise would not have had, before returning to the melodic death metal core of this work, which then gives gravitas to the whole thing, bouncy riffs and all. In this way, it is closer to early Sentenced and Therion than later works from those bands, since the hard rock and heavy metal elements work in support of the death metal instead of absorbing them and then using the death metal techniques as a disguise for less intense music.

Mindloss takes the listener on a trip towards entropy guided by a mockingly humorous soundtrack centered around various themes of bodily and mental degradation. Procedures are kept relatively uncomplicated as anything else would probably not do justice to the subject at hand. Rudimentary death metal reminiscent of Scream Bloody Gore/Leprosy-era Death is combined with riffing, hooks, solos and harmonies borrowed mainly from Black Sabbath and the NWOBHM, producing morbid, highly energetic music resembling a straightened-out, simplified and streamlined version Autopsy with a hint of Bolt Thrower in the declarative tone of the vocals and lyrics.

In contrast to Autopsy who were masters at creating adaptable song structures to carry their obscure vision, Gorefest sticks to a basic song formula. Each composition is comprised of a handful closely related musical ideas that are cycled through before time is ripe to reach the contrasting apex-section, which is followed by a concluding part that recapitulates the main themes presented earlier. While predictable, this method provides a sense of direction: a foreboding sensation of approaching inevitable doom rather than a triumphal musical climax.

To avoid stagnation, heightened dynamics are reached through the alternation between contrasting sections at different tempos accompanied by a fixed set of techniques. Slower parts consists of melodic leads and doom-laden riffs forged out of Sabbathian interval-figures moving over trudging chord progressions and groove-filled percussion. When time is ripe, a sequence of faster sections follows where the guitarists let out an even flood of rapid-strum chords grouped around concluding hooks further amplified by the drummer. Here, heavy metal harmony meets up with death metal dissonance to build further tension. These series of contrasting yet complementary sections are highly welcomed, as they add variety to the fixed song structures without sounding arbitrary in the company of each other.

Death metal purists will probably argue against Gorefest as the blockheaded, repetitive nature of the compositions in liaison with heavy metal-derived insistence on hooks, groove, and squealing guitar solos makes the music sound deliberately retrogressive. It is no big secret that Mindloss does not hold up against the classics of genre, but it makes for an enjoyable occasional listen by grace of the high-energy levels, and morbid, ominous atmospheres accomplished through a transposition of heavy metal tropes into a death metal context.

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33 thoughts on “Gorefest – Mindloss (1991)”

  1. Vigilance says:

    Good to see you back fam

  2. Varg Overreacts to Big Cat Cock says:

    That review was pretty tight my nigga

  3. better dead than funderground says:

    Confessions of a Serial Killer is like a death metal anthem. No purists mocked them then either despite their music being derivative. By the time Erase came out, they shit on their potential. This is better than any of the best of 2016 picks anyway.

  4. HEY FUCKERS ! WHY HAVEN´T YOU GUYS REPORTED ON THIS ?

    WATCHTOWER NEW ALBUM !!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_9yeZRCs0Y

    1. this trip is turning into a bit letdown says:

      I like the star of David on the cover.

    2. canadaspaceman says:

      cuz nobody cares after Jason McMaster left. The second LP was passable but NOWHERE as immaculate as the debut Lp Energetic Disassembly.
      I semi-liked that second LP, mainly diue to the debut…what a mistake…even if the band was ahead of the curve, so what? I remember stuff off the debut..NONE from the second.
      The singer ‘s style maybe has a bunch to do with a band’s memorability? hmm ?
      death grunters should pay attention, cuz yur a dime a dozen.
      fuck prog metal
      only thrash and death is real

    3. trystero says:

      I could never get into this band, nothing I listened to was good enough. It would blow away modern metal but still not really be worth spending time on. Can someone recommend me something? A song? An album? I feel like this band deserves a fair chance, they do try hard.

      1. canadaspaceman says:

        Meltdown – Watchtower
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srvQnOd_1CY
        WatchTower – Tyrants In Distress
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXgyio0Hu54

  5. Varg Overreacts to Big Cat Cock says:

    what about black metal though?

  6. Billy Foss says:

    A solid album that I otherwise would have never bothered to listen to because of the stupid band name and ridiculous cover art. If I can find any fault in it, most of those boneheaded rhythm riffs overstay their welcome, but the leads do provide a interesting contrast. The Sabbath influences are unmistakable, but I appreciate the other comparisons drawn for future reference.

    I also think it’s certainly worth noting that a single track, “Horrors in a Retarded Mind,” has been blocked on “copyright grounds.” Ugh.

    1. Johan P says:

      I think the cover fits the music quite well, although the band name is definitely cheesy… And yeah, I agree that some ideas stick along for too long.

      “Horrors…” is blocked? Now, that’s retarded. That tune provides a good, if somewhat obvious example of how the band in different ways give songs a dynamic boost. The song trudges on in 3/4 time signature until they suddenly shift gear for a couple of measures when they reach the contrasting section, only to relapse back into the same rhythm to finish the song off.

    2. better dead than funderground says:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI16-EFXxyo

      This link works for me.

  7. Billy Foss says:

    And what does it represent? A two-pronged, cognitive death by way of consumerism and modernity!

    Indeed, it reeks of a sweeping, cursory glance style of censorship. Nevermind the coprophilia, mutilation, and necrophilia. Had they bothered to read the lyrics, their poor brains would have begun hemorrhaging like that wretched baby doll.

    1. Johan P says:

      It makes for a lovely companion to the “cute” toddler on Necrophiliac’s Chaopula, Citadel of Mirrors!

  8. Rainer Weikusat says:

    Why so many nice words about such an uninspired clone band? The vocalist tries really hard to be Karl Willet. The drummer tries really hard to be Andy Whale (the style is quite distinctive). The other members of the band try really hard to be something but they haven’t yet figured out what ‘something’ is supposed to be. The guitar solos are really the only saving grace and they’re not terribly good, either. Any number of current bands have better lead players (for an unlikely compliment: I had the mispleasure to endure an Aborted gig February last year. The only memorable part of that was a solo by one of the guitar players which was really cool).

    10/10 as practical demonstration that there were already bad death metal bands in 1991, although certain dead people’s articulated dislike for “trendy death metal” ought to have hinted at that. Fond memories (I have none) apparently colour everything rosily, but better things than this have been released last year, Kshatriya and Tarnkappe being among them (weren’t it for the Italian and the “collector’s bullshit”, I’d almost certainly buy the former).

    1. trystero says:

      No way either Kshatriya or Tarnkappe are better than this, they aren’t even at the same level. Both of those bands are straight garbage. Gorefest may not be comparable to the best metal that co-existed with it, but it blows nearly any modern release out of the water.

      Why are you so bad man? DLA. Year. Get to it.

      1. better dead than funderground says:

        Agreed.

      2. thomasw_ says:

        Agree with this. I think Rainer is likely thinking Gorefest’s work after 1991?

      3. some guy says:

        No rainer is right. This album hasn’t got a single interesting riff going for it. At least serpent ascending doesnt sound like a nondescript blob of death metal feces being squeezed through a play dough spaghetti machine.

      4. Rainer Weikusat says:

        No way either Kshatriya or Tarnkappe are better than this, they aren’t even at the same level. Both of those bands are straight garbage. Gorefest may not be comparable to the best metal that co-existed with it, but it blows nearly any modern release out of the water.

        This blows nothing »out of the water« as it suffers from extreme uninterestingness. Had I bought this when it was released (slim chance), it had ended as one of these “I don’t really likes this but it’s at least death metal” records, no comparison to other Dutch bands of this time (Pestilence, Asphyx or even Thanatos) and the only ‘level’ I see here is “4 20something guys making a couple of stylistically increasingly commercial also-ran albums and then calling it a day for want of success”.

        Neither Kshatriya nor Tarnkappe are bands I’m especially fond of (Kshatriya seesm more interesting to me but could do with more energy and less artiness) but they’re both above this ‘level’ of exceptional lacking.

        DLA. Year. Get to it.

        This may be of some interest to a historian (and I’ve had occasional glances at bits of it) but the writing is largely incromprehensible and the content is musically ‘mixed’, to say the least. I used to own the 2nd Pestilence album and would re-buy that at an instant if I saw it somewhere but something like ‘Spheres’ would never come close to running to completion in any device controlled by me: This is a “no prog rock, ever” (wank elsewhere) territory, or, to put it into the words of Carl Palmer »Steve Howe came along and we thought he was shit, you know« (when auditioning for an Atomic Rooser guitar player). Taking another example, some people obviously like Watain, but I’m not among them.

        I’m also (as the first sentence might suggest) not that interested in band … released a great album in 199x, x < 3. If I buy that today, the part of the music industry convinced that "marketing the back catalogue" is the safe 'bread and butter' option and investing in new stuff pointless and risky smiles and I don't want that.

        1. trystero says:

          Why do you listen to metal Rainer? What does it mean to you?

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            I’m sorry but I’m interested in a conversation about certain music and some related topics, not in “talking about me”, except insofar this is useful (eg, as example) for the former.

  9. Roger says:

    Thanks for this. Hadn’t heard the band. It’s solid DM, if not a bit too similar to Sinister and rocky at times.

    More of this, and less shitty black metal albums “celebrating the prehistoric conquest of everything from Ireland to India by pastoral Proto-Indo-European peoples from their urheimat located in the northern reaches of the Pontic-Caspian steppe in what is now Russia and Ukraine” please.

    1. better dead than funderground says:

      Exactly.

  10. Kingdom_Gone says:

    This was pretty enjoyable, thank you DMU for another gem that would have gonen unnoticed!

  11. Jeff says:

    What is the average age around DMU these days? It can’t be much more than 25, surely??

    1. Physically? Probably at least thirty something. Emotionally? Only the shrinks know.

    2. Nuclear Whore says:

      Yeah man.

      And dissing this album is terrible. What comments out there. This record is a masterpiece.

    3. Rainer Weikusat says:

      Considering that – in a usual human male – the brain dies for want of perfusion as soon as the generative organs start to become functional, it ought to be younger than that.

    4. S.C. says:

      Interesting that you would mock youth since metal was the product of unadulterated volatile youth. Metal became worse as its firmament aged. I get that it’s frustrating to have grown up listening to metal at its peak and then see it become bastardized and fetishized by the general current youth, but metal needs to find itself again within the passionate, eccentric and isolated young minds who feel as strongly about the music as the generation who grew up with it and are bountiful with ideas of how to keep it alive.

      1. trystero says:

        Rather than the great metal being a product of youth exactly (though of course there is something to that!), the insight I think that one should take from this is that these greats failed to mature. On reflection, this particular problem seems to be global, and could be used as a metaphor for modern society; stuck in a perpetual adolescence. It’s bigger than metal.

        1. Necronomeconomist says:

          “these greats failed to mature”

          What’s that, trystero?
          Certainly you don’t mean the great metal musicians are failures for not… “maturing”!
          If memory serves, ALL the canonical classics were made by dudes under 26. Or 24 or whatever — YOUNG niggas..
          I’m talking To Mega Therion, Blood Fire Death, Hell Awaits, Altars of Madness, Legion, Kenose, Onwards 2 Golgotha, etc.

          These niggas did not NEED to mature. Maybe I’ve misunderstood ya.

  12. Morbideathscream says:

    I remember passing up the opportunity to get into Gorefest years ago, I think it was due to the PC message in their lyrics. I just listened to it, it’s OK musically, definitely not the best from the classic era. Morgoth and Sinister were superior.

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