Review Summary: Castlevanian Hunger
Gonemage is a spiritual offspring of Cara Neir's latest video game inspired outing; a solo project of Galimgim, who takes the reins in every duty here except for playing the drums. Get this, though: he programs
them. Get it? The metatextual thematic depth on display here is on par with CD Projekt Red's masterstroke of releasing an unfinished version of Cyberpunk 2077
, cleverly communicating that we were living the real Cyberpunk all along, which we'll all realise once we shut the game down and venture outside to yell in Poland's general direction.
Shitty jokes aside, Gonemage's genre synthesis is one that's almost destined to go wrong. At a glance, video game soundtracks and metal have a rockier past than From Software and intuitive NPC questlines, Cliff Bleszinski and good ideas, or Chris Redfield and that boulder in Resident Evil 5
. Even shittier jokes aside, if one perseveres, it's possible to make just about any idea work. Open world games and fetch quests are tedium manifest to my tastes, and yet Death Stranding
is one of the better AAA games I've played [once] in a long, long while. Similarly, Gonemage's approach to mixing the Fedora Atheism of video game soundtracks with the Misanthropic Atheism of black metal is surprisingly effective.
Gonemage's gimmickry on Mystical Extraction
is at its best when Galimgim integrates and weaves the video game influences into
the music, creating something analogous to Murmuüre's synthesis of black metal, Morricone, and, uh, other stuff, into one sprawling tapestry that detached Murmuüre
from human performance and propelled it into a realm of obscure abstractions and surreal sonic mania. Mystical Extraction
has this same potential coursing through its veins in a way that Cara Neir's Phase Out
doesn't, and the moments that effectively recontextualise the sounds plundered transform simple genre breeding into a swirling, bit-crushed milieu. At these moments, Gonemage are onto something special.
Balance in all things, though. Every great game has a shitty sewer level. When the black metal stylings and otaku symphonies refuse to collide and instead run parallel to each other – trems and cute 8-bit excursions sharing everything but timbre; or traditional drum sounds being swapped out for comical, distorted vidya drumkits – we wind up with something that sounds more like mash-up than composition, and the wheels start to wobble.
's potential mitigates its wobbliness, though. It's easy to recognise the fertile ground Gonemage stands upon, Blue Jazz and Star Fruit germinating in confident silence beneath the freshly tilled earth. If the weather holds, and we come together and support Galimgim [is that a real name?], maybe he'll yield a bumper crop someday. With that in mind, would you kindly stay a while and listen?