Album Review: GODDESS OF FATE Spiral Orchard Pt. 1
After some time writing for this site, I've become aware that metal is not exclusive to the first world countries that we associate heavy music with, but rather global phenomena. I'll admit that I have only scratched the surface on international metal and most certainly would be hard pressed to name off any Indonesian metal bands. Of the bands within the Southeast Asian territory that I can brainstorm, they're either very much so underground or were miraculously brought to the mainstream's light through the media sensation of being from a distant country. I can almost guarantee that a headline that reads "[Insert Race/Ethnicity] Group of Teenagers Form Thrash Metal Band," wouldn't be nearly as viral if it didn't mention the shade of their skin (no offense Unlocking the Truth or Voice of Baceprot).
Bottom line: as excited as I am for an international band to release music, I feel it is only right for me to judge their music based on the quality, not by the color of the musicians' skin and hometown. Granted, I must also understand that because of limited access to resources, the artist is bound to possibly have some room for error. For example, in the case of Goddess of Fate, I found their songwriting and style to be very interesting and impressive. Yet, the production is a tad wonky in parts. As detrimental as the production may have affected the music quality, I heavily assume if this group was American or European, they would have easier and cheaper production access (also, before the review, comment your favorite band from a country that's not necessarily known for metal).
Background-wise, Goddess of Fate is an Indonesian progressive death metal from Yogyakarta, Indonesia and formed back in 2009. Their 2012 debut EP, A Reversal of Civilization, revealed a more tech-death style in contrast to the latest proggy Spiral Orchard Pt. 1 LP. While the band consists of Dicky Faizal Huda (vocals), Saka Pramudita (guitar/keyboard), Ahmad Okta Perdana (bass), and Revanda Verdian (drums), there are a decent amount of other Indonesian musicians making guest appearances. The LP was recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Bable Sagala at Watchtower Studios.
Opener "Aromantic Pt. 1" provides a folksy atmosphere with the crackling of a campfire accompanied by acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies. It is without a doubt a strange way to start an album. Still, it was effective in luring me in and establishing a haunting mood. "Bipolar Elixir" is most definitely an interesting piece; the intro riff sounds as if Between the Buried and Me were an 80's thrash band. Buzzing synths, pounding snare, and choppy guitar licks all mesh together into a messy dissonance before being relieved by a subdued an acoustic, clean passage in the ways of Opeth. Although the dizzying time signatures and peculiar production choices had me a bit disoriented, I found this track to be at least one of the more memorable ones.
Other pieces like "The String's Eclipse" and "Enshrouded in Crystals" follow a similar duality, balancing extreme heaviness with soft sections. The latter track reaches the ten-minute mark and meshes doom-laden soundscapes with death metal quite smoothly. On the other hand, poltergeist horror movie score "Limbo" and inspirational video game soundtrack cut "Pillar of Autumn" felt out of place. They are really beautifully crafted compositions, yet nonetheless stuck out like sore thumbs.
Returning to the question of if Goddess of Fate's internationality affects the quality of the work, I believe there actually are some aspects of this release that may have been impacted by this notion for better and for worse. Firstly, my interest may not have been piqued to look further into the promo release if it hadn't mentioned the internationality, so I admittedly fell for the trap that I mentioned earlier. Secondly, I truly feel as if the production of this record was not fully complimentary to the music and perhaps the band would have had better results possibly being in a country with more reliable resources, but that is a privileged assumption. And lastly, I think their musical and historical culture could have played an influential role in some of the more experimental tracks such as both parts of "Aromantic."
To conclude, Spiral Orchard Pt. 1 is one turbulent listen. There are parts that I certainly have qualms with and rub me the wrong way, but there's an equal amount of original innovation. Apparently, this release is part of a conceptual saga where Goddess of Fate will create a follow-up in direct relation to this LP, which I hope will fine-tune the issues I previously brought up. Although not a game-changer, I think this record is worth lending an ear to if you're keen on experimental, progressive metal.