Between the fifth and the tenth centuries, following the ultimate downfall of the once dominant Roman Empire, the island we now know as Great Britain was not part of a united kingdom, but one riven by rival fiefdoms and regional overlords, all competing with each other for dominance and legacy. Despite the travails endured by the peoples of what we now call England, those north of the modern border stood strong and relatively united, repelling attack after attack on their independence, defiant in their determination to stand alone. Prime among these were the Gododdin, a legendary race of almost berserk warriors who consistently threw themselves against overwhelming odds, to the extent that, according to the lore, only three of them were left standing during the siege of Catterick Castle – which they subsequently ransacked \m/
It is from this lore that this collaboration between Meads Of Asphodel frontman Metatron and guitarist James Marinos have drawn their inspiration for this, their fourth addition to their musical re-interpretation and re-imaging of Britannic folklore.
The album opens with the suitably atmospheric and poetic ‘Through The Murdering Night’, its spoken word intro presumably drawn from those of the Welsh bard Aneirin, who chronicled the journey of Manaw Gododdin warlord Cunedda to found the kingdom of Gwynneth following the ultimate defeat of his northern brotherhood, slowly fading into the album’s main folk-fuelled melodeath thematic, building the tension to tumultuous effect.
Lead single ‘Men Of Gododdin’ (which features the first of a number of guest collaborations, on this occasion from Hoest of Taake) is understandably the most accessible track, a glorious combination of melodic death metal riffage, folk-infused harmonics (and instrumentation), acerbic vocals and acidic intent, a combination of beauty and brutality that few bands in this genre manage to balance but TWOA do to superb effect. This is something which is exemplified on ‘The Shining Company’, which combines infectious melody with the same sense of dark but unashamed gothic bombasticism that pervades the entire opus.
The highlight track for me is ‘Dead Men’s Cloaks’. It combines classic gothicism with a sense of dark tranquility (sic) highlighted by ironically interjected violin interludes which accentuate the energetic pathos, combining all of the elements of the English dark goth scene as enshrined by the likes of Paradise Lost, FOTN and SoM into one glorious package. Closer ‘Is This How It’s Meant To Be?’ answers its own question, presenting eight minutes of the darkest progressive rock to bring the album to a massive climax that entwines all of the album’s previous themes.
Despite featuring just five tracks, ‘Y Gododdin’ is a huge album, epic in its scope, subject and ultimate delivery. It is an album of diverse timbres and miens, but one which combines its myriad sonics into a beautifully homogenous whole. The result is a true work of art.
- ‘Y Gododdin’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
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