Review Summary: bleak, depressing, and totally brilliant.
Up and coming German crust act Downfall of Gaia traverse more harrowing emotion in this four track demo than many bands do in their entire discographies. Both intensely atmospheric and relentlessly hard-hitting, the band takes hardcore fundamentals and pushes them to emotional extremes, flickering between fragility and ferocity.
The soft/loud dynamic is employed remarkably well by the band, with the shifts from clean strumming to distortion seamless and fluid. Each track features such movements in atmosphere, but it is perhaps best exemplified by the build-up in ‘1000 Nadeln’, and its subsequent diminution. Although there are similarities throughout the four tracks regarding style and execution, the four songs develop with an inherent smoothness, reflecting the well thought out composition – even transitions sit profoundly with the heart-wrenching guitar hooks, not once allowing the music to become stagnant or repetitive. To add to the forcefulness of the louder passages, the level of feedback is such that it allows subsequent notes to mesh together, giving an overall fuller sound. This no doubt furthers the juxtaposition between soft and loud that Downfall of Gaia have initiated.
Along with the band’s aforementioned mastering of composition, the level of poignancy herein cannot go unstated. The opening part of ‘Doomi’ shows off the utter despondency that Downfall of Gaia preaches. Bleak and desolate, the demo does not leave a single moment’s solace for the listener in its approximate twenty minute length; the reflective sections of calm hide a subtle menace, both austere and stern, and the dissonance exemplified by the sections of brutal hardcore are nothing short of acute myocardial infarction. What typifies these latter parts is the intensity of the vocals; both low gutturals and excruciating shrieks are used, the two styles interweaving to create an enhanced dynamic regarding the band’s appeal. The track ‘1000 Nadeln’ (again) uses both low and high vocals in loud and soft sections, respectively, and their enrichment in relation to the music is best observed here. Other moments in which they are combined simply add to the rage and viciousness.
It’s a relief to know that there are young bands that are making an effort to create a unique sound, and succeeding while doing so. Downfall of Gaia’s demo is not only a huge accomplishment for this relatively obscure band, but hopefully sets a benchmark within this style of music that others can aspire towards. Highly recommended.