Rivers to cross, mountains to climb and trolls to wrestle…
Review by Paul Castles
Release date: 26 September 2014
A couple of years ago at Bloodstock I entered the Sophie Lancaster tent to check out Gormathon. I was mightily impressed by the Swedes and in particular their extraordinary frontman Tony Sunnhag. With his big grey beard and waist-length hair this man mountain looked as though he could earn a pretty healthy living as a double for Gandalf the Grey. Fortunately for us the darklands of Mordor was knocked into a crooked wizard’s hat and Sunnhag earns his corn by fronting this dynamic bunch from the small town of Bollnas.
Sunnhag’s stage presence at Bloodstock was something to behold. Pretty much rooted to the spot he simply switched his weight from one foot to the next with increasing speed and intensity depending on the mood of the song. Oh yes, and he fired up the crowd with a series of fist pumps. The overall effect was fantastic and many punters reflected that Gormathon were their pick of the festival at Catton Park. Since then I’ve been keeping an eye out waiting for another sighting of the great Gormathon. Well now we’ve got it thanks to the band’s second full length release, Following the Beast.
Some albums require a student of metal to put in their homework to really get the max from it – think Meshuggah, Gojira, Ulcerate. That’s not the case with Gormathon. The hit is pretty much straight to the veins from the very first second and the blood pumping Scandinavian sound scarcely relents throughout this 12-track delight. First track ‘Remedy’ launches itself with a great rumbling riff that hooks you in like a goldfish at the funfair right from the off. It’s a brilliant opening blast, nice and steady, with some sweeping solos eventually eclipsed by a climactic finish bursting with vitality. The vocals are deeper and more abrasive on the pounding ‘Land of the Lost’ while on ‘Hellbender’ Sunnhag is barking away like an angry sergeant trying to line up his troops on the first day of drill practice.
Gormathon are not afraid to mix things up and while the album has deeper more retrospective moments songs like ‘Break the Chains’ are classic 80s-style metal, cleanly sung with swaying harmonies and indulgent but certainly not tired solos. A furious riff opens the door to ‘Celestial Warrior’ an absolute Viking of a song with a soaring Sunnhag crying out the battle-rousing chorus ‘All your powers are mine I shall watch you go blind, In my darkness Celestial Warrior’.
A battery ram charge bulldozers its way through the thrashlands of ‘In Benevolence’ while ‘World of Sin’ rifles along with great mountain topping peaks with Sunnhag at his irresistible hair-raising best, exulting ‘The time is here and I’m calling from my world of sin’. In contrast, ‘Remember’ tip toes through the dark forests with Sunnhag speaking rather than singing almost as though not to awaken the trolls lurking in the shadows. The sparkling ‘Absence Of Trust’ almost splutters into life like a defiant old banger refusing to start on a chill winter’s morning. Once Gormathon finally awaken this slumbering giant Sunnhag gradually starts to stretch his larynx to its full bellowing capacity like an over enthusiastic schoolboy on his first day at choir practice.
Gormathon embrace an eclectic mix of styles, they’re happy to thrash things out but they can equally create a more somber mood such as on the rustic ‘Warlords of Doom’ with its monastic chants. What really shines through on every number is the band’s songwriting ability and some of these tracks are more addictive than a packet of Haribos. No matter how many you have you just want one more! As for Sunnhag, this swaggering Swedish soldier has a set of lungs that would make him a much sought after specimen in a hospital looking to perform a transplant. The likelihood is that the Swedish health service will have to wait a while to get their hands on the Sunnhag bag blasters. There are more rivers to cross, mountains to climb and trolls to wrestle. Gormathon are stirring and they’re coming for you.
9 out of 10
Read Paul’s interview with Gormathon guitarist Stefan Jonsson here
- Land Of The Lost
- Break The Chains
- Celestial Warrior
- In Benevolence
- World Of Sin
- Absence Of Trust
- Warlords Of Doom
- Into Oblivion
- Silent Walk