By: Espi Kvlt
>GGGOLDDD – This Shame Should Not Be Mine
>Released April 1, 2022
> Artoffact Records
As a huge fan of GGGOLDDD (previously GOLD), I was extremely excited to review their latest effort for a mini review, expecting to love it as I always do their work. What I did not expect, however, was how deeply it would impact me, clutching hold of my soul and not releasing me until the album was finished and she had said everything that needed to be said. For anyone else who has suffered a horrific injustice at the hands of a person who believed they had the right to violate you, this album will unfortunately be an all-too familiar tale. But it’s also an album of strength and courage, with the image of a simple knight (portrayed by lead singer Mia Milena Eva), as its cover art, standing tall, proud, and unafraid. Exactly how I felt the day I outed my own abuser. While I generally only review black metal for my part on this blog with an occasional exception here or there for the mini reviews, I felt it necessary to do a full review for this beautiful piece of art, because I had way more to say than could be fit into a simple paragraph.
GGGOLDDD has always been a very heavy band, which is what drew me to them in the first place when I heard the song “Things I Wish I Never Knew,” a song that helped me process my own grief. But this album feels different right from its opening track, which acts as a warning to anyone who cannot stomach how heavy the subject matter is going to be. It’s short, it’s intense, and despite how heavy it is, it perfectly leads us into the dark, quiet, harrowing second song on the album. “Strawberry Supper” was the song that made me realize “oh my God, this is Way More Than I Expected.” I have written such similar sentiments to my own abuser that it was as though I was reading my own words sung back to me by this incredibly talented post-metal vocalist. The abuser’s best trick is to raise you up, lovebomb you, and then destroy you, and GGGGOLDDD perfectly captures that feeling not only via lyrics but also via instrumentation – starting off slow and quiet and building into a heavy drum beat that sounds like how my heart felt the night I realized what was happening to me. The following track, “Like Magic,” has very similar vibes, caressing us softly into the song with more gentle singing over a light instrumental backdrop and then pounding the riffs into our heads so hard they’re impossible to ignore as Milena wails the line “like magic” over and over again.
The song that follows was the hardest hitting for me on the record. I, too, didn’t see my abuser’s sadism coming. I, too, wanted to shower until my skin fell off, and still do every time I think about it. These chilling opening lyrics lead into a hard, industrial-sounding section of instrumentals that buzz through the skull like a man’s dark words buzz through one’s mind for eternity after the pain he has inflicted. I could go on and on about the lyrics in this section. The vivid poetry that so many of us can unfortunately relate to, turning the pain of suffocation into the triumph of art. This monumental piece leads into “Invisible,” which has the coolest-sounding strings I’ve heard, period. This song is going to suck you in immediately, give you goosebumps with its intense drum patterns, and then make you hold your breath and listen when all the instrumentation stops and you’re forced to just sit and listen to the haunting vocals. This might be my favorite instrumentation on any album, ever, the fantastic strings and melancholic drums giving me chills every single time I hear it.
The album gives us a second to breathe and process with “I Won’t Let You Down,” a gentle tune with vocals reminiscent of a lullaby. Don’t get comfortable, though, because “Notes on How to Trust” is next, and it’s got drum patterns almost as interesting and goosebumps-giving as “Invisible,” with vocals to match, weaving through these intriguing notes and reminding you that the voice is, in fact, an instrument all its own. The title might deceive you into thinking it’s a song about trusting others after going through something traumatic, but if you listen closely, it’s actually a song about trusting yourself again. Something tragically relatable as so many survivors end up blaming ourselves, doubting our realities, and shattering our own confidence long after our abusers are gone. This song is about trusting oneself and it’s got the perfect, bouncy instrumentation to match this positive message in an otherwise bleak album.
The song that follows continues perfectly with this messaging, aptly called “This Shame Should Not Be Mine,” which also happens to be the title track. I knew I was going to love this album from that magnificent title alone, but I didn’t realize just how deeply I’d relate to it, as it’s something I have to remind myself constantly, even today, years after the events, and remind myself that I didn’t do anything to wrong, and the only one who should feel shame is my abuser. The strong message this song sends doesn’t need much more than its own lyrics to hold itself up, resting upon a backing track with a ghostly string and drums that come and go quietly. Even though this is the title track of a metal album, it’s focus is completely on Mia’s vocals, as it should be.
With just two songs left on the album, it’s amazing how quickly these songs flow past, like a movie. A movie about a knight avenging herself. “On You” starts by also focusing on her vocals, adding an eerie echo effect over them that creates the illusion of a chorus singing with her as she wonders aloud why she wasn’t good enough for her abuser, as I’m sure we all have at some point. And the line “You put your filth on me/I will shake off that dirt” is a triumphant opposite of the opening of the album where she noted that no matter how much she showered, she couldn’t get the filth off. This song is also a slow, vocal-focused track, and her abilities truly shine as she hits angelic notes of optimism throughout. However, we are quickly reminded that this is a post-metal album with the closing track, “Beat by Beat,” which guides us in with sporadic synths and more strings that sound almost like a funeral march. As our protagonist bellows that “it’s time for some healing,” we feel like we have gone on this journey alongside her and watched her character develop and grow into this powerful being who won’t allow the filth of someone who violated her to keep her down. Despite how harrowing the album has been up to this point, it has a positive closing with riffs and drum patterns as powerful as her voice. We know she’s going to be okay, and through that, we know that we’re going to be okay, too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
GGGOLDDD has been absolutely no stranger to haunting imagery, touching on topics of grief and depression in a poetic fashion that has cemented them in the post-metal scene. This album, however, takes it to an entirely new level. I urge any survivor to listen to this, to feel her power, and to walk away from this knowing you have the strength and the power to keep going through everything. If you aren’t a survivor, I urge you to listen to this as more than a metal album, but also as a view into the trauma so many people around you have endured. Literally every minute – every 68 seconds to be exact – someone in America is sexually assaulted. And that’s just in America. You encounter survivors all day, every day and most of the time you probably don’t even realize it. This album is courageous, saying aloud what many are too afraid to say due to shame and silencing. I strongly encourage everyone to listen to this and to take it to heart. We can all benefit from hearing this story.