Album Review: GAEREA - Limbo
Genre: Black Metal
Review by Will Oakeshott
A blessing and a curse for this writer (and many music journalists undoubtedly) is the attachment and obsession that is built from the reverence of a musician, band or even their “sound”. The discovery, experience, repetition, craving and alteration artists can put their observers through has an incalculable effect on their lives. However, the sound becomes an addiction and devotees, especially this scribe, yearn for more; inevitably we dive deeper into the dark underworld of the arts, especially in the scenario of heavy music to find a fix that can alleviate this hunger. Famed American musician Ry Cooper summarises the infatuation flawlessly with his quote: “Music is a treasure hunt. You dig and dig, and sometimes you find something”.
The realms and possibilities of Black Metal have been explored by countless acts since its first wave emergence and the progression has been astounding; the growth the genre has undertaken since Venom released ‘Black Metal’ in 1982 has been exponential. Comparing that LP to, for example, Oranssi Pazuzu’s ‘Mestarin Kynsi’ - to be frank, the records and outfits are worlds apart but the essence is undeniable and similar.
“Worlds apart” is one of the best illustrations to offer to begin the introduction to extreme blackened death metal quintet Gaerea - it could be argued that the aforementioned “genre” would be best represented by an outfit found in a near unreachable frost-ridden village of Scandinavia. Surprisingly, this is far from the case; Gaerea call one of the planet’s premier surf locations home, Portugal. Do not let this deter the listeners or readers though; what this five-piece have devised with their second full-length ‘Limbo’ (first for prominent extreme music label Season Of Mist) is far from a vivacious paradise; in fact, what Gaerea will unleash upon the globe is a diabolical tsunami to bring in a new ice age. Never fear, they will also supply the dessert port to warm up their listeners newly darkened cold existence.
Almost instantly (and thankfully) with the five-piece’s opening track To Ain, Extreme Metal enthusiasts will discover a notable influence of Behemoth displayed in Gaerea’s assault and it is most welcome as the introductory paragraph to this review articulated. It fills the void of deprivation which the too brief EP ‘A Forest’ released earlier this year by the Polish purveyors of the metal classification delivered unsuspectingly. Gratefully, the song also becomes that “discovery” to aid the addiction discussed earlier. In that blackened vein, the following track Null calls upon Skeletonwitch in the ‘Forever Abomination’ era - but not as a replica, far from it. This adventure of haunting heaviness is the song the notorious Ohio band forgot to write.
Glare finds a more Mgla inspired direction with a modern feel; this actually bridges upon an impossibility as an afterthought to consider. Somehow, the two prior mentioned descriptions can actually be created - this is what Gaerea have accomplished, a modern perception of a rough and organic concept orchestrated by a mastermind outfit.
At this juncture it is very difficult to fathom that ‘Limbo’ has reached the halfway point, but like the momentum and devastation of a tidal wave, it continues to engulf and invariably alter those who experience it. Conspiranoia ensures that Gaerea are as strong as their counterparts within this intriguing musical formula alongside the “new wave” such as Ultar (a possible Australian tour when it is allowed?).
Urge advocates more death-than-black metal in its recipe but with a very mature progressive edge - a maturity that would astound any fanatic of all of the prior mentioned genres. To close, a return to the feel of Behemoth in persuasion, however there is another entire colouring to the track. At over 13 minutes long, it trifles with a post-metal sound but perplexes and negotiates an artistic realm similar to Australia’s own Encircling Sea with a pinch of Batushka for an enhancement of euphoria - in all honesty it just has to be experienced, much like the album.
Here is a couple of interesting facts: Portuguese is one of the most spoken languages in the world and the nation once owned half of the “New World” including Brazil, Asia and Africa. So Portugal’s tidal wave has been felt on Earth throughout history and continues to in our everyday lives - Gaerea have now provided a soundtrack that will waver heavy metal tides throughout the world and it is matter-of-factly their third wave (please see and hear their self-titled EP and ‘Unsettling Whispers’ album). If the moon alters the tides on Earth, Gaerea are “that same feeling”.
Limbo is out now via Season Of Mist.