God Root – Salt and Rot (CD self-released / digital Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, 11 July 2017)
The music world suffered a great, if largely unheralded, loss around the end of 2014, when ambient-experimental blackened doom duo Sadgiqacea, one of the only good things to ever come out of Philadelphia, ceased operations. (Our review of their last album can be found here). The pair briefly reunited to perform at last year’s Shadow Woods festival, but otherwise it seems they’ve been occupied with other projects. While guitarist/vocalist Evan Void continued on as a member of Hivelords and Tombs (both of which were discussed here), drummer/vocalist Fred Grabosky (aka the artist behind FTG Illustrations) was quietly assembling some other like-minded individuals to form a brand new group. After shifting a few pieces around for a little bit, the line-up stabilized with bassist/vocalist Ross Bradley, guitarist/vocalist Joe Hughes, guitarist Keith Riecke, and Jordan Stiff who is credited with “noise” and guitar, all joining forces as God Root.
The band’s second official release, Salt and Rot saw the light of day just a few weeks ago, and the guys are now gearing up to hit the road with New Jersey’s Sunrot. A full list of those dates, all over the northeastern and midwestern U.S., can be found down below, but first let’s check out that new album!
“We hope this record helps people escape,” said bassist Bradley about Salt and Rot. “That’s what we wrote it for and we paid a lot of attention to how it moves from track to track and what kind of journey it takes a listener on. Thematically the record deals with the frailty of human life and of ego and the dogmas we’ve tried to build for ourselves. It’s about facing one’s mortality and letting go of what you can’t control, destroying those oppressive forces trying to control and manipulate you and becoming self-reliant outside of these systems.”
Whether these four tracks actually make the listener feel better may be debatable, but the general sense of unease here bears a resemblance to the feeling of confronting something that makes you very uncomfortable or anxious head on, and dealing with it until either you overcome that feeling or it overcomes you.
Introductory track “Reclamation” starts with ambient noise and slow tribal-sounding drumming, gradually adding monk-like chanting; the song increases in intensity as more voices and more noises continue to build over the course of its six-minute running length. This then fades into the longest composition to appear on the album: fourteen-minute “From Hounds to Silent Skies” with a very ambient, slow and heaaavy doom foundation. Here we find a cacophony of different voices screaming and shrieking and yelling, and following a rather unnerving Grand Accelerando throughout the mid-section, these are replaced by numerous layers of echoey whispers.
As it turns out, much of this confused amalgam comes courtesy of friends and family of the band: “We put a call out to our friends and family to contribute something they wanted to let go of,” explained Bradley. “We recorded their voices/read their writings. Some of these were personal stories and some were phrases or names that meant something to them. It was really harrowing and humbling to have these people we love be as vulnerable and open and honest as they were.”
With all of that disconcerting energy out in the open, the record continues with the instrumental “The Peak is Our Threshold” — various combinations of sustained feedback and random cymbal crashes that keep building, circling around and around for over six minutes until finally it dies away. Fourth and final song “Conscious Disease” opens on a slow drumbeat, augmented by a disconcerting blend of cookie monster style growls on one side, and spoken word on the other, both giving a sense of dread and depression (although the message ominously hints at the possibility of permanently escaping all of it), before finally achieving a sort of resolution, in the form of megalithic slow doom carrying the listener away over the last several minutes.
* * * * * * *