True devotees of underground heaviness and grimness will nod their heads at the mention of the band WINTER, whose brief recording career had a disproportionate impact on the metal scene. They created one of the doomiest, ugliest and most massive sounds ever heard on their landmark 1989 Into Darkness release. That sound has haunted the cobwebbed corners of the underground for 30 years now, though WINTER itself ceased to exist long ago.

GODEN (named after a track on Into Darkness) are about as close to WINTER as you’re going to get in 2020 and in fact have former WINTER member Stephen Flam among its ranks. That gives this an extra layer of authenticity. GODEN have come up with this immense and ponderous successor to Into Darkness naturally called Beyond Darkness. This is almost too much of a good thing as the album contains 19 tracks and is certainly long enough to be considered a double album.

Fans of WINTER will definitely relate to the crushing slabs of bleak riffing found here. GODEN’s sound is a bit more polished and less grimy than WINTER of yore, but it’s certainly heavy enough and is coming from the same fathomless abyss. There’s even a frosting of cold and cheerless synth/key sounds ala WINTER to add to the already depressing atmosphere.

This album is very much a concept piece revolving around three cosmic characters known as Spacewinds, Nxyta and the Prophet of Goden. Eight of the tracks here are brief interludes called Manifestations where a gloomy narrator intones mystic mumbo jumbo of the most involved kind. That sounds like a lot, but 10 of the tracks are plodding doom metal with riffs that could squash mountains into dust. Listen to the sheer dark heaviness of ‘Twilight’, ‘Cosmic Blood’, ‘Night’, ‘Winter’ and the like, and prepare for death. There are two vocalists – Stephen “Spacewinds” Flam does masculine roars fully in old WINTER mode, while Vas “Nxyta” Kallas offers harsh female vocals.

It’s a lot to absorb, and by the time ‘Winter’ comes dragging itself in, you may just feel like you’re suffocating under a mass of hoarfrost. Is GODEN in the same realm as WINTER? Not exactly, but believe me, it’s as close as you’re gonna get, and it is a futile quest to find any light or relief on Beyond Darkness.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

Beyond Darkness
Svart Records
4.5 / 6