"Загадка (Zagadka)", which I believe is self-released, marks my first exposure to New Jersey’s Gholas, and it offers up an hour’s worth of music spread across nine tracks (a few of which top 10 minutes with ease). This is another one that’s sort of rooted in that "Neur-Isis" type of sound, with loads of thick, plodding rhythms and gruff vocals, but despite a number of lengthy instrumental passages there’s definitely something immediately darker and "doomier" about the overall tone of this work. The riffs themselves have a little more going on than most bands of this nature, which I quite like. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is, but all of the little dissonant textures and additional flourishes just seem somehow more involved or interesting here. They also well avoid any irritating "post-rock" influences (you know, all those shimmery effects and slow, drawn-out builds from soft to loud that never pay off), which is always a plus at this point. In fact, the melodic aspects of this album are much more fluidly integrated, and not only carry more weight but also communicate a greater sense of emotion within the overall context. All of this is boosted forth with damn solid production values that keep all of the elements tightly knit without obscuring the subtleties. I love the bass presence, for example. And at least to my ears, it wasn’t until midway through the album that more and more raw, gritty textural details started to surface. Great cover art, too. For some reason it really stands apart from stylistically similar pieces and grabs the eye. This is a massive release with a hell of a lot going on, so I know I should have more to say, but… I tend to prefer letting the music speak for itself. It’s an intriguingly puzzling album in that there are a lot of immediately recognizable elements, and the general tone feels familiar, but the band has the talent and vision to twist and turn their influences in a manner that can’t be pigeonholed into one firm categorization or another, which is awesome. The more you listen, the more you’ll find, so you can stream the entire album below via Bandcamp and draw your own conclusions!
In addition to physical copies, the album is also available as a name your price download, and you can’t beat that!