INPUT>CHAOS is a mindbogglingly terrific and wholly innocuous ode to what sludge music is about. It left me both amazed and enchanted, and entirely ready for more.
There are so many hidden gems to be found within the world of heavy music; the unsung heroes, the quiet pioneers, and the gentle giants are often musicians that too many people have not discovered yet. That is probably the driving force behind what interested me in music journalism in the first place. There is something so humbling about finding a band in their early days and watching them grow into the spotlight. It is so inspiring to find artists that are completely new to me and really feel like they are going to be something huge someday, and that is exactly how I feel about London-based sludge trio Ghold, and their latest release: INPUT>CHAOS.
The thick, groggy, suspense-inducing static that kicks off INPUT>CHAOS with its first track, “Chaos Reigns”, sets the tone for the album’s overall experimental and sludgy vibe. Then, we are thrown straight into the flames as hymnal-esque harmonies and bassist/guitarist Al Wilson’s deep-down-in-your-gut riff blasts carry us through “Divine”. This is probably my personal favorite on the whole album, as I find the dynamic between the haunting vocals and spine-tingling rhythm simply enchanting. Upon listening to this track, I had to stop jotting down my thoughts completely and just revel in it. In my opinion, a key indicator that one’s art is successful is when it makes the viewer/listener/reader etc. feel something, and this song made me feel as though either something really incredible, or terribly dreadful was about to happen, and that is exactly what I love in any form of art.
The third track off the album, “Blindsided & Drunk”, instantly reminded me of Baroness in their Yellow & Green phase. The seven-minute long feat does not disappoint as it takes a slower, more soothing turn via the echoing vocals from all three members; Al Wilson, Paul Antony, and Oliver Martin. In this heavy-hitter, we get a chance to truly hear what Ghold has to offer instrumentally, and it is nothing shy of pure, well, gold.
INPUT>CHAOS closes out with a combination of everything we have heard thus far in “Lift The Sweet Veil”. The title of this track and the emotions it gives off causes visualizations of finally reaching a turning point in one’s life. It is as if the main character in this auditory novel is ‘lifting the veil’ to uncover what they’ve been searching for for so long. This album starts off in a dark and uncertain headspace, and slowly we are taken through the trials and tribulations of what it takes to reach ease and comfort. It is the perfect conclusion to our long and wildly exhilarating journey.
The side of my personality that is a bit of a chaos addict holds a soft spot for sludge metal, as it checks off all the boxes necessary to grab, and hold, my ever-wavering attention span. Sludge metal is known for its rickety, abrasive unpredictability and often contains elements such as distorted vocals or instruments. I’m sure we are all at least a little familiar with Melvins, who are typically (and rightfully, in my opinion) coined as the leaders of sludge metal, along with the various southern rock/metal aficionados like Crowbar and Eyehategod, who all helped to pave the way for sludge to be brought to the forefront of the heavy music scene. And honestly, I think they would all be proud of what Ghold has accomplished with INPUT>CHAOS.