The Wakedead Gathering
Fuscus: Strings of the Black Lyre
I, Voidhanger Records
The Wakedead Gathering = early Katatonia + Repulsion x Godflesh
The band name completely threw me off on this one, I thought I was about to listen to something totally fucking shitty, like Hollywood Undead, or, to a lesser but still-pretty-fucking-shitty extent, Bury Your Dead. The Wakedead Gathering IS a cooler name than those bands, though, and my apologies to the band for being pretentious. This album/band is neither rap rock nor metalcore (far from either), and with my expectations shattered, I was delighted, thankful and relieved to be bombarded some gruesome death metal.
At the helm of all the instruments and vocals in this project is a single entity: Andrew Lampe. I was expecting a pseudonym, because a “proper” or “Christian” name doesn’t really seem appropriate for the high-level insanity imbedded in the music. Fuscus: Strings of the Black Lyre, the latest installment in said project, is a concept album that, when listening to the album, reading the lyrics along with it, and looking at the cover art, seems carefully crafted. It’s clear that Mr. Lampe didn’t just say “fuck it” and throw this all together like a last-minute college philosophy paper. It’s apparent that he was extremely meticulous, picky, methodical and, most importantly, creative in his endeavor into the darkest regions of his mind, for which I salute him.
The vocals are raspy, dismal and reminiscent of many vocalists from the glorious sub-genre of war metal (see Blasphemy, Archgoat and especially Beherit if you want a comparison). In fact, much of the music is reminiscent of this style: Lampe foregoes melody much of the time, instead leaning more towards atonal riffs and unconventional song structure. It’s important to emphasize that the band does have its own distinguishing, hammer-beaten features. The drums sound programmed and probably are, but that fact alone shouldn’t be a make-or-break deal for anyone: Nokturnal Mortum used them for the majority of their career and they rule, Hoth kicks ass, and let’s not forget about Limbonic Art. Au contraire, I’d say this works in the bands favor as far as my tastes go—I’m a sucker for good industrial and industrial metal. There’s a fair amount of pitch harmonics in the songs, and while this in itself is not an indication of guitar skill, the work on the album makes it apparent that Mr. Lampe is a talented musician who takes inspiration from a wide array of genres and artists.
The beginning seeps in with an intro, “Into The Gyre,” a brief segment that consists of keys, dark ambiance and sound effects (heavy breathing, footsteps crunching dead leaves and branches). The setting is presumably in a forest, unless somebody secretly recorded me walking around in my apartment. Then we get into the real music. “Blood From The Earth,” the first proper track, immediately shows the talent and breadth of inspiration Mr. Lampe puts into the project. It starts off with the gross death metal, but then abruptly goes into a jazzy interlude, and before you know it, it breaks into a balls-out, blackened frenzy, complete with tremolo-picking and a guitar solo that gave me that satisfying, elusive tingle in my spine. The last track, “An Ancient Tradition,” is one hell of an album closer: it’s a slow, doomy, forlorn and emotional procession that builds into a grandiose, epic anthem of death worship.
Consider me satisfied. I’ll go ahead and give this my coveted seal of approval. But I will stress (or warn you) that this is some fucked up shit. Like really, really fucking weird (in a really, really good way, to me at least). In all seriousness, this could probably be used as evidence in court, should Lampe ever need to get off easy with an insanity plea.—Alex Coulombe