I sometimes wonder about the people who make and listen to the most extreme types of metal; how they came to embrace such a fringe element of heavy music. I have a hard time imagining people jumping straight from what they would hear on the radio to full-on black metal or grindcore, and yet so little of the traditional forms of metal remains in those styles that I often struggle to find any connection at all. Surely, they must have been fans of less abrasive forms of metal first, but it's more a guess on my part than an actual statement of fact.
My faith is reaffirmed when a project like Gift Of Gods comes along, a throwback blast of heavy metal from one of the founders of black metal legends Darkthrone. It's nice to be reminded of the roots of even those frosty versions of metal, and maybe it could tempt me to try to expand my horizons again. Maybe.
Of course, you can't fully excise the black metal from a musician once it's in there, and “Receive” is no exception to that rule. It doesn't take long into the opening “Enlightning Strikes” to be fully reminded of just who is responsible for this music. The guitars retain the fuzzed tone of black metal, as do the throaty vocals. The song asks a lot of the listener, stretching almost nine minutes without offering much in the way of a traditional metal song structure. There's no defined chorus that makes you want to shout along, and the riffs aren't exactly of the variety to make you want to headbang. The slower back half of the song is melancholy and cool, not the most energetic thing in the world.
What I'm reminded of by “Receive” is the “Between Two Worlds” release Abbath put out under the 'I' moniker. Like that album, this is more a toned down version of black metal than it is a traditional metal release. Unlike that album, however, “Receive” doesn't bring much to the table that would appeal to fans of either side of the ledger. Black metal fans will be put off by the lack of hostility and misanthropy running through the songs, and traditional metal fans will be bored as minute after minute passes by without a hook.
The instrumental title track is a perfect example of this. At nearly six minutes, the song is a basic construction of three simple riffs with almost no dynamics or lead guitar to differentiate it from a practice routine. Instrumentals need to show some degree of songwriting, which I can't seem to find in this case.
“Receive” is clearly a labor of love, but I'm not sure I quite understand the point of it. I can't see it appealing to traditional or black metal fans, nor do I think it fully embraces what it sets out to do. Rather than approach traditional metal through a black metal ethos, it's watered down black metal that's trying to be more palatable, but doesn't understand what aspects of the music make it niche. All in all, I'm just confused.