Pillars of smoke rise from the lungs of the earth, choking on the smouldering flames whose origins no one can remember. With the planet gasping for air a wave of death and destruction spreads, leaving nothing unscathed in a purging not seen by the likes of humanity. These fires rumble with bewildering ferocity, a sight and sound matched only by the cries escaping from the mortal remnants of a life wasted; a stain upon Gaia’s memory being cleansed before The Great Unfurling – a rejuvenation of being with homo sapiens existing only as a distant memory. We are witnessing the beginning of the end, and by some stroke of luck bands like Elder Druid perfectly capture the essence of smoke and brimstone in a bottle, leave it to ferment where no light can touch it, and unleash its potent poison upon the world in the form of Golgotha, a scathing slab of occult-riddled sludge which pushes the Northern Irish quintet’s formula deeper towards the hellish domains.
A bludgeoning dose of corruptible heaviness, Golgotha greatly expands on the work laid out on 2017’s debut Carmina Satanae, itself an exceptionally bruising sonic attack. Whereas this record dealt zero subtleties and relied on its grizzly frankness to obliterate the poor unsuspecting bystanders in its wake, Golgotha sees Elder Druid imbued with hellfire; you can taste the smoke rolling of each riff let loose by Jake Wallace and Mikey Scott, and Dale Hughes’ extra-fuzzed-out rumblings only blacken the whole affair. The air here is so dense and heavy it ignites in an Archean cascade of primordial horror; add Brien Gillen’s otherworldly blitzkrieg coupled with Gregg McDowell’s sonorous howling and you have one almighty clarion call from Mother Earth as she returns to a pre-“civilised” state of being.
The doom here is intensified also: after the brutal awakening of the ‘Sleeping Giant’ it is one lumbering Goliath after another, dragging their knuckles across a burning planet and carving deep gorges in their wake. The perfect coupling of ‘Golgotha’ and ‘Sentinel’ trudge ever downwards with the intensity of a pack of mammoths, the former’s beastly monolithic motif ensures all heads are bowed down into submission before the ensuing migration succeeding the latter crushes its followers deeper into oblivion. Sinister and unforgiving, the music here remains largely glacial, often funereal, but every blow is dealt with relentlessly sneering savagery – just follow the path chiseled by ‘Vincere Vel Mori’ and ‘Dreadnought’ should your body remain intact and you’ll be dealt a deathly blow in the cataclysmic finale of ‘The Archmage’.
Putting it simply, Golgotha is as harsh as it is meditative – in the sense that its primeval conflagration harnesses a cavernous spirituality flowing through the atmospheric airwaves. You won’t have time to dwell on this for too long mind, what with your skull getting caved in during the course of the album’s runtime, but with its full production making the most of every crevice the speculative rhythms of the Endtymes cannot be ignored. They ooze out of every prolonged riff with dread, ensnaring the imagination of passersbys long after the record’s fiendishly deceptive clarion call. A fuzzed-out bombardment you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon.