Gollum - The Core
Gollum? Are we to expect something resembling LOTR power-metal epicness, or perhaps a themed Black Metal band? Think again. Hailing from North Carolina, USA, Gollum are an amagalmation of ideas and styles, crammed together into one semi-cohesive sound. The Core was just recently released, and the reviews have fallen between "decent" to "dominating". I find myself somewhere in between the betweens.
For sure, the band has a knack for their base sound, which is heavy southern hardcore, thick with grime and blanketed by the sort of production that seems to slightly choke the life out of each song, increasing the thrill of it all. Sometimes this does get in the way, especially when the band decides to slow it down and experiment with progressive riffs, and altogether different styles of music. At times sounding like a bastardized version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, at others heavily influenced by their friends in Lamb of God (Randy Blythe has done guest vocals on some of their previous work), the band never really sits still. They blow their loads over the first half of the album, however, and leave little to savor the rest of the way. You'll find gems in "The Core" and "Ominous Winds", the former featuring a ear-catching tempo shift towards the end and the latter a melodically-driven number that also does it's best towards the end, featuring some angelic female vocals over a riff progression that really rocks. From here on out, however, Gollum either repeats themselves ad nauseum or springs another surprise your way (The Burden of Ubiquitous Scars) that loses it's impact surrounded by average hardcore.
Tragedy struck the band as drummer and founding member Hunter Holland passed a time before this album was released. While all my sympathies go to the band and those close to Hunter, I am unable to let that affect my rating, which is simply so-so. If Gollum can learn to incorporate their deep-listed influences in a more steady and encompassing manner, future releases will be very interesting indeed. For now, it might be hard to find a niche listener for The Core but any fan of experimental hardcore and/or southern metal will most likely find at least a couple tracks here to love.
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