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Maximum Satan: GosT Wants To Be Your “Possessor”

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Metal and electronic music meet at their absolute extremes: where tradition breaks and expression reigns free without shame. While the two genres are otherwise different, amplifying the right characteristics — gravity, tension, aggression — draws them closer together. The danger in taking things to the maximum is over-amplification, i.e. overdoing it. There’s only so much intensity you can pack into one cohesive expression. The absurd irony is that, taken to its limit, intensity becomes farce. Hyperbolic movie scores from modern big-budget action films, for example, are meaningless in their content save only for their tremendous single-barreled emotional momentum. It’s all about climax (metal and electronic sharing this quality), building up to it, and maintaining it, not plowing through the whole process in an outrageous fit. As with most variables, there’s a careful balance. To be extreme, you actually have to be extremely reasonable too.

“Death-wave” producer GosT has not been reasonable with his recently released full-length, Possessor, an aptly titled demon of an album whose sheer intensity precedes itself (see the ludicrous cover art). As expected, you get hyper-aggressive grind beats and, of course, ones you can “grind” to on the dancefloor. They’re electronic to their core without doubt, but GosT arranges them on a metal framework and then increases their density and intensity twofold to match. Possessor is a true fringe hybrid, neither fully metal nor electronic, but also not both or either. So blatantly written to a maximum, and almost excessively loud, the album carries a definitive front, requiring listeners to ignore a veritable neck-grab until the grip finally loosens.

There’s the whole Satan theme, for instance. Possessor opens with eerie clips from interviews with, assumedly, survivors of satanic rituals — a daft and unoriginal move, but quickly outshadowed by the triple-heavy electroslams that follow. The album’s narrative is clearly drenched in a “satan-core” aesthetic (admittedly, the right choice), but like the music itself, it’s intended solely for the purpose of impact. It cannot be taken seriously here, and that’s both a benefit and a detriment: the music is accessible, but ultimately surface message-wise. By no means is Possessor uncomplicated, though — it’s just that its narrative, however basic, is occluded by its own extreme pretense. Taken with some unusual character-adoption, as GosT explained during a Bandcamp Daily interview, maybe that was the point entirely.

I personally am not religious in the slightest, but GosT definitely believes in God and the devil, heaven and hell. As a character, I am able to immerse myself in that belief, which can be very intoxicating to me creatively. It’s a strange paradox for me, because I enjoy letting myself employ those beliefs, but can and do instantly leave the character behind when I take the mask off.

If we think through the lens of electronic dance music, though, maybe the point is then well-made. Physicality in music — what makes you move — is elicited by factors entirely unassociated with aesthetic, lyrical messaging, or even production/marketing. It comes down largely to songwriting, and that’s where Possessor shines through its self-created veil: these tracks are designed for motion. Extreme motion, actually. The hardest drops, the fastest blasts, the grooviest rhythms (all maximized) interplay like a dancer’s delicate footwork and in scrutinous arrangements to excite you toward dizzying climaxes. Some tracks, like the maniacal “16 A.M.,” get there by assaulting your eardrums with as much razor-edged noise as possible and then juxtaposing that onslaught by abruptly introducing suave synth melodies. What’s interesting, especially in that example, is that GosT utilizes both the electronic and metal pathways to “heavy” and “extreme.” The track “Beliar” functions similarly by incorporating speed and atmosphere, aggression and passivity in quickly varying the counterbalances. Possessor has lightspeed pacing: a short attention span, and little in the way of listener forgiveness for inattention.

“Extreme” in this sense means “unforgivingly encompassing.” Possessor cannot be casually listened to; as muzak, it transforms into a headache-inducing racket, or elevator tunes from hell. And, in some ways, Possessor doesn’t come into focus unless you physically move with it. Sitting down, the album’s metal side shines brighter than when you’re standing up, and vice versa. This multifaceted nature works to its benefit because the characteristics of the non-dominant side (essentially depending on the listener’s mood at the time) get reimagined through the dominant one. To wit, at its most metal, Possessor imbues electronic with newfound fury; at its most electronic, it imbues metal with all the unabashed groove that, often unsuccessfully, projects under the synthwave tag attempt to inject. Just as GosT is pure characterization, there’s something to be said about taking on your own “character” when digesting Possessor.

If the idea is to somehow transform into someone (or something) different and perhaps a bit esoteric to enjoy Possessor — basically, a fancy way of saying “just reimagine the annoying bits as charmingly weird” — then so be it. There’s cheese baked right into this album’s core: it’s so overwhelmingly tacky and overblown that it actually exceeds campiness, pressing toward something entirely different. What that thing is, or whether it has any meaning, though, is another question. It’s not like GosT tries to avoid any harsh realities, and there’s no honest impetus to do so anyhow. To put it another way, when it comes to appreciating extreme music, you need to ward off cringeworthiness — concepts like “cringe” represent a status quo which by definition must be broken, or more specifically in this case, exceeded.

To that end, GosT exceeds himself with Possessor, which is certainly an accomplishment. It’s eye-rolling which threatens the album, though. It’s almost as if the satan imagery was intended to counterbalance the patent flippancy of the music’s intensity. Plainly speaking, Possessor is absurd music. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable music. You either have to swap out your lenses or shift moods entirely — or, maybe you’re just in dance/headbang mode all the time. If that’s the case, more power to you, and more power to GosT for pushing some boundaries, whatever they may be. For lovers of all styles of extreme music, this album (pretense notwithstanding) delivers exactly what it promises.

Possessor was released last Friday via Blood Music. Follow GosT on Facebook here.

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