“Old Certainties” sees Brighton three-piece Gorse laying down the gauntlet, with an often intense and immersive collection of songs, the band exploring their potential of their soulful, idiosyncratic take on heavy, riff-driven rock to the full.
The combination of off-kilter riffs, heartfelt, powerful vocals and driving rhythms creates an atmospheric, charged atmosphere which has echoes of King Crimson, Neurosis, Helmet and other single-minded noise shapers. Like those bands however, Gorse isn’t walking in anyone’s footsteps.
A rock solid guitar/bass/drums template is the platform, but the seven, often lengthy, songs take off from there, subtly evolving and shifting, with repetition and added textures such as keyboards and haunting backing vocals creating a hypnotic mixture. In short, the album is an involving trip. It was recorded in drummer and backing vocalist Jennie’s basement studio, with a DIY approach befitting the organic way Gorse writes and develops songs; basic tracks were recorded live.
The expressed mission of founder member James (guitar/vocals/keys), ex of London noise machine Hey Colossus) in 2007 was to create elemental, heavy as hell music which didn’t aim to be ‘metal’ but was earthier and had depth, sonically, and in terms of song themes. Inspired by bands conjuring up a ‘force of nature’ such as Neurosis, he was also turned on by the simplicity of doomy three-pieces like Yob and The Hidden Hand, so a three-piece seemed like a great way to strip back to the bare bones and build from there.
Lyric-wise, James moved from trawling his own psyche for conundrums and passions, to wider themes such as war and its effects, and how our past echoes in the present; they are often written from differing points of view. The new album features all these elements, often in abstract ways, expressing the positive and more melancholy sides of life in turn. Fittingly, these are counterpointed by the journeying, restless musical undertow. Like life, it’s bittersweet in tone, but it’s often fascinating and fulfilling.
After a couple of years with changing line-ups, guitar/vocalist James Parker and bassist Olly Thomas (ex-Gilamonsters) met Jennie Howell (ex-From Beneath It Devours) thanks to a tip off from a friend, Ash (drummer with the late, great Charlottefield). Jennie (who is also a current member of the Black Neck Band of the Common Loon (a “horror show of rattling percussion, violas and church organs”) brought a jazz-influenced but hard-hitting style and cemented a new sound. Reinvigorated, Gorse began writing collaboratively in earnest, and the new album is the end result.
Gorse’s first release was an extended EP, Slumber Of Artemis (Calculon, 2009), followed swiftly by a stop-gap CD/download album Bovine Soul (I Made This, 2009). This opening salvo of fifteen tracks garnered attention in a range of media, from underground stoner/doom-orientated websites to mainstream rock mags.
released July 11, 2011
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