Reviews Round-Up Golden Core Special: More From The Core
There’s more to life than albums issued by Golden Core Records, I’ll freely admit, although not much. The label boasts an eclectic roster and continues to be responsible for such a wide range of exciting releases that they’re hard to keep pace with.
First up, delivering what they call “a highly original brew of Nordic-influenced melodic black/death metal and the gruffness of German thrash metal,” are CHAOS PATH, who came together in 2016 in Kassel, a city pretty much in the middle of Germany.
Treading a familiar black metal path with corpse paint and pseudonyms doesn’t really inspire originality, but Chaos Path – Ancient Weapon, Richy Backfire, Soul Obliterator, Nocturnal Reaper and The Doom Lord (they’d be easy to find in the local telephone directory – have a secret weapon in that they have up their collective sleeves a number of well-crafted and exceptionally well-delivered songs: the grinding ‘The Awakening (Chaos Path Part I)’ and ‘Among Wolves’ are particularly fine examples of what makes the genre so vibrant. The band’s history is based around two limited edition self-pressed vinyl EPs – March 2018’s ‘The Awakening’ and ‘Downfall’ which followed eighteen months later – and this seventeen-track ‘Rise Of the Apocalypse’ CD brings both records together, and adds three live cuts from last year’s Rock Down The Lockdown II Festival in Kassel, with ‘Dark Times’ in particular revelling in a particularly Venom-esque essence.
Video clip: ‘The Awakening (Chaos Path Part I)’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1tME8hWH48
Most of Golden Core Records’ output is based on unearthing lost gems from daze gone by, and into this category fall SACRIFICE. As tasty and rugged as a Toblerone, the Swiss quartet released a 12” single ‘Gates Of Time’ in 1984, and followed it with their sole long-player ‘On The Altar Of Rock’ a year later. Theirs is a very much a traditional Euro-metal sound, and the production is very much of its time, but for fans of this metal period it’s quite a treat. The songs are well presented – the instrumental ‘Hot Street’ for example roadraces along with hints of Riot in its DNA – and the guitar interplay between Serge Kottelat and Kiki Rais in the likes of ‘Can’t Understand You’ and ‘Little Killer Man’ is simply wonderful. Following the release of the album in 1985 the band soldiered on, and, understandably realising that their name could link them with the burgeoning black metal scene, revamped their identity. Now known as Jade, they issued a final album ‘Precious And Wild’ in 1991 before calling it a day. This new version of ‘On The Altar Of Rock’ – available only on vinyl, strangely – features a newly mastered version of the original LP together with the two cuts from the preceding single, and is highly recommended.
Saving the best till last though we hop from Switzerland to Germany, and from Sacrifice to SACRAFICE, a five-piece band based in Detmold. Picking up on the Canadian thrashers Sacrifice – although there were numerous bands using that name back in the Eighties, as the Swiss gentlemen of On The Altar Of Rock’ fame demonstrate – they changed their spelling in time to release ‘The First Experience With The Unknown’, a four-track EP with NWOBHM roots so deep it could have been recorded in Scunthorpe. The EP, put to tape in July 1984, is highly collectable (the band reckoning that fewer than 1,000 copies saw the light of day) which isn’t surprising: although the production is a bit patchy (vocalist Ace Gee sounds like he was recorded in the pub toilet next door) the playing is exuberant with the galloping ‘The Holy War’ being particularly impressive. Three further live tracks are added to this release, and although these are taken from a ropey audience recording in March 1985 they certainly establish that this was a cracking live band. There’s more though: although the band hit the buffers not long after, in 1994 drummer Martin Hendig and guitarist Martin Liebert – obvious gluttons for punishment – decided to give the music biz another go. Gee returned, and with bassist Axel Fendesack and keyboard player Gregor Zimke they formed a more progressive outfit called TranQuiL. The band recorded ten songs – six of which have been added to this release – and played just three shows before splitting once more. The first couple of songs here (‘The Knight Moves’ and ‘Shadow Dancer’) are pretty standard fare but after this the rest, starting with the astonishing and haunting ‘The Chair’ – eight minutes of disturbing yet captivating melody – are unbelievably good. Golden Core releases always have something of interest to recommend them, but this album in particular is a real gem, a true first among equals.
© John Tucker March 2023