Sunday, January 29, 2012

REVIEW: Der Golem - Zmet

Der Golem, a turn of the millennium Russian Post-Punk trio, has seen their legacy fall into the hands of only a few cult followers. Though shadows may be the perfect resting place for a band with such a stern and somber image, music of this caliber is just too good to go unheard. Take the band out of the shadows a bit. View their records through a modern lens, and you're bound to feel as if you're resurrecting some ghost of the past – a feeling which makes their records all the more sublime.

'Zmet', the band's debut and only enduring release, is a painfully enticing sketch of post-Soviet malaise. Every track is steeped in an atmosphere of decay, even from first listen of their ethereal guitars. What really crystallizes this spirit is frontman Roman Sidorov's vocals which embody a prayerlike craze reminiscent of Ian Curtis. Roman guides the listener straight into his troubled soul, reflecting the suffering that drove him to suicide only four years after recording 'Zmet', in September, 2003. It's the vocals along with the instrumentation, structure, and Industrial elements which submerse the album in gray. This by no means means the work is monotonous. In fact, it's far from it. All the way from the beautiful falsettos and reverb trailed guitars of “Солнце Мёртвых” to the minimal synths, teetering violins, and spoken word of “Исход I,” 'Zmet' escapes the redundancy that often impairs such bands.

Since I don't speak Russian, 'Zmet's' lyrics and song titles are gibberish to me – a fact which I don't know magnifies their mystique or diminishes their value. Nevertheless, I was able to decipher a few lines, including a verse from “Нет (No)”: “Behind a window the dawn/ Melts the neon light / But I am not present / No me anymore.” These lines reveal exactly what I expected them to: nihilism and a spiritual poeticism. Though such central tensions may at first constrain the album's emotional range and resonance, listen with open ears and you will wonder how Der Golem's unfettered passion and honesty ever eclipsed the press.

Standout Tracks: Нет, Древние Звёзды, Солнце Мёртвых, Птицы

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