Release Date August 13, 2021
It isn’t easy these days to pull off a darker, horror influenced aesthetic without leaning heavily (and often willingly) into excesses of cheese or cliche. Some have built a career on doing so, and brilliantly, while others tend to approach the darkness with more restraint, not in terms of musical intensity but conceptual approach.
It’s no secret that synthwave and synthrock often lean heavily into indulgent nostalgia, albeit with more purity and less plagiarism than many contemporary genres, and that in itself is a touch ironic. But when those heart-on-sleeve influences and a certain kind of retro-futurism are used as a jumping off point for a modern sound, the results are among the more compelling offerings of the present.
GosT, a solo project from the darker fringes of modern synth, are a perfect example of showing the cards of one’s sonic influence without giving away the card tricks, and with Rites Of Love And Reverence, both lesser and higher magics are front and centre. A loving tribute to the beauty, mystery and suffering of witchcraft through the ages, it also pays homage to it’s classic goth club sensibilities.
A hint of 90’s London After Midnight here, a dash of 80’s Nine Inch Nails there, and more than a pinch of early Sisters Of Mercy, all are blended tastefully in the proverbial cauldron into a potent and intoxicating elixir, bringing the musical tension of eras past into a very modern focus.
‘November Is Death’ is perhaps the highlight in the blacklight, a stone cold modern goth club classic, and not the only one on offer here, as “Embrace The Blade” follows right on it’s heels with appropriate malice and sincerity – indeed, sincerity is the order of the day given the subject matter. Reverence indeed is the key word here, and that is what separates the likes of Gost from the derivative tendencies that often plague the musical nostalgia of their peers.
This is a truly modern take on darkwave – a seductive and occasionally violent clash of post punk, industrial and electro influences, culminating in the dark acoustic romanticism of ‘Burning Thyme’, bringing an often frantic record down with gentle melancholy, before a dramatic and cathartic exit. Thus, a work balance and beauty. Sure, one occasionally interspersed by bouts of screaming white noise, but even those are well executed at carefully chosen moments, and a difficult trick has seemingly been mastered where many of today’s darker contemporaries simply go full ham and expose the magic.