GURT – Satan, etc.

The arrival of ‘Satan etc.’ marks the end of a five year silence from Gurt. Within a few bars of the album’s opening track ‘The Most Dying Way To Die’, however, it’s as if the UK based riff monsters have never really been away. The perfect re-introduction to the band’s self-proclaimed “party doom” sound, the number presents the heaviness of your average Orange Goblin tune and dresses it up in spangly glam rock platform soles. By delivering a stomper of a riff that sounds like the guts of Black Sabbath playing something from the ChinnyChap universe, they’ve automatically secured their audience’s attention – and they know it, too – before the track progresses with a hugely confident air that allows a sludgy riff punctuated by great stops, and even a Rob Zombie-esque groove to derail the almost danceable moods. It doesn’t seem to matter what twists the music takes, either; every time the main glam stomp returns, it feels like the musical equivalent of the ultimate b-movie bad-ass, coming back stronger after being slapped down by the hero of the piece. The buzzing guitars are relentless with their fat melodies; the drums lock down a ferocious groove, and even a retching vocal can’t kill the feel good vibes. Gurt haven’t just returned – they’ve returned in style.

Presenting another 70s inspired core – at least at first – the raucous ‘Doi of The Doid’ opens with another glam tinged sledgehammer of a riff which is used brilliantly to fill a chorus, whilst the track’s verses opt for aggression of a different kind. Sharing one of this recording’s biggest, sludgiest guitar parts, Rich Williams locks into a massively overdriven sound, whilst drummer Bill Jacobs hammers through a speed driven rhythm that almost appears to be pulled from some of the 90s’ darkest stoner works, then played back at almost twice the speed. At the point you think things couldn’t be more intense, the band pull a pure doom riff from their musical arsenal and couple that with a colossal roar. If this is still “party doom”, then everything’s taken a frightening turn, but if approached with no expectations for fun, it’s sounds absolutely immense.

With a combo of rattling bass and a buoyant guitar riff, ‘Exit As You Enter’ also offers a strangely retro riff within its noise, and then, by twisting its sharper edges into a pointed, post-hardcore blast, Gurt show more imagination in a few bars than your average doom/stoner band could muster in several albums. The push and pull between the guitar and bass during this number’s instrumental breaks add an even greater musical punch, but if anything sticks in the long term, it’s how naturally frontman Gareth Kelly’s vocal assault fits with the number’s all round aggression. Exploring the subject of “self-pleasure on Arrakis”, ‘Sandworm Fleshlight’ adds something fairly topical to the album at the time of release, but for those who don’t want to be distracted by sexual content/important messages from other planets [delete as appropriate] the Gurt lads deliver more great music throughout. Here, you’ll find weighty bass grinds courtesy of David Blakemore, a huge metal riff leading into a massive hardcore chug and the sound of Gurt spurting with a major attitude. The main riff’s mid tempo makes the heavy edge sound even heavier, and even when the band decide to apply some speed, there’s a force that’s to be reckoned with. Despite a brief moment where it sounds like everyone’s about to explode with a punk/metal fusionist frenzy, the climax actually presents a fairly ugly, relatively sludgy sound which shows Gurt in particularly menacing shape.

Opting for something more abrasive, ‘Knife Fever’ – supposedly inspired by “a botched vasectomy” – kicks off with a semi-fast riff that latches onto a repetitive sound, over which a hardcore vocal screams…fuck knows what, quite honestly. It’s hard to tell with a lyric sheet in hand. That really doesn’t affect the enjoyment of the overall piece, though, as there’s a ferocity here that’s hard to beat. Joining the abrasive voice that’s set to shake everyone and everything into oblivion, there’s an equally forceful guitar riff that spends the first half of the number attacking with a doom/hardcore blend, and then eventually settles into a great, groove laden doom riff that’s more in keeping with a heavier stoner band. By the time this secondary groove finds its feet, it becomes a superb head-nodder, and for those looking for a touch more melody, an unexpected twin lead guitar break – half buried in the musical swamp – offers a knowing wink to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’s forefathers. Despite being one of this album’s more challenging tunes, fans will find more than enough greatness in the second riff and the band’s sense of force to make it a favourite.

Elsewhere, ‘Appetite For Construction’ gives the album something that’s much closer to traditional doom, but its repetitive, downtuned guitar riff and some amazing drumming take a very familiar style into places that still feel quite invigorating. By the time the number’s darkest riffs are lifted by a banshee like howl from a deep and bluesy guitar, it gives a clearer insight into some great musicianship, whilst the lengthy ‘Electric Brown’ pays tribute to absolutely classic stoner by recycling the sounds of the mighty Fu Manchu, but by playing their typical riffs back at a much slower speed – but retaining the heavily percussive influence from the drums – everything sounds a fair bit heavier…in a good way. It’s also pleasing to note that the “brown” in this case isn’t a tired old paean to the delights of Class B drugs, but celebrating “the beauty of brown cars”!

Much like the best of Gurt’s prior offerings, ‘Satan etc.’ is knowing and fun, but never resorts to cheap novelty. The music here is strong enough to make it last several lifetimes longer than that knackered old copy of ‘Ooooh Crikey! It’s Lawnmower Deth!”. Packed with tunes that your committed stoner rock buff will love, driven by a love for Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity and Fu Manchu that’s as big as anyone’s, this album proves that stoner/doom metal doesn’t have to be po-faced, or share wazzed up tales from an imaginary desert to feel authentic. With nine riff-championing workouts that aim to make the listener feel much better, regardless of subject matter – funny, scary, perverse, or even trivial – this is a genuine monster of a disc.

April 2024

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