Right in line with the band name, Philadelphia’s The Drowned God share waves of existentially crushing anguish on their attention-grabbing new album, Pale Home. The title references a purgatory-like place of existence — “We dwell together in this Pale Home,” vocalist Cody Golob emotively roars on the album’s closing track, “You Remained Silent.”
Golob’s performances sound wracked with rattling desperation, as do the instrumentals across the entire dynamic record. Overall, The Drowned God seem difficult to tie to a specific genre — not that the endeavor would be particularly fitting anyway. Across Pale Home, the group largely performs a kind of coarsened metallic hardcore, and the songs often feel compellingly grandiose and dramatic, so there are also some expansive post-metal vibes.
Most of the music across Pale Home proves quite tense, as though standing right in the middle of some metaphysically all-consuming fire once venturing into the record — the abrasive, soul-tearing guitars often sound like they’re somehow themselves letting out a pained wail of sorrow. Meanwhile, the mix is often quite formidably thick, which amplifies the sense of a broadly immersive atmosphere and, more metaphorically, closes off opportunities for escape. Within the world of Pale Home, disorientingly blinding shadows extend well past the visible horizon.
The record largely sticks to a brisk pace — it’s thunderous, like a roaring cross-dimensional storm. The often emotively contorted and grueling rhythms — which occasionally evolve into raw chaos, with blast beats on the drums and correspondingly blistering guitars — make the record seem like a very personal experience. At times, it’s almost convulsive in its intensity. Rather than focusing on more depersonalized elements, the record highlights uneasy emotional states that go along with the pangs of existential uncertainty that are explored here.
The record begins on an explosively chaotic and simultaneously pummeling note, rolling into blasts of grippingly heavy riffing that seem poised to send bystanders reeling. From there, the record moves into moments like the staggering percussive blasts around the midpoint of “Awake in the Mourning,” the more straightforwardly moving coarsened hardcore pummeling on “Without Ceremony,” and the atmospheric desperation on the more slowly paced “Near Spanish Lake.”
The instrumentation is consistently impressive — thematically, the group seems to use the grandiosity that they’ve captured to amplify the emotional impact, and simultaneously, there are some serious “wow” moments in here that would no doubt be great in a live setting. That steady current of thrilling energy makes the journey feel especially realistic.
There’s an air of finality to it — the sheer force makes the path that the album travels seem unalterably set. There’s an undercurrent of strained peace on the record, like the feeling of sitting quietly among fields of wreckage. Acceptingly venturing onward, as reflected across Pale Home, can provide a strange yet welcomingly warm sense of security.
The scorching anguish that the album packs feels real, no matter the fact that The Drowned God use an ambitious storytelling concept to explore the journey. Although the record repeatedly features rather suddenly shifting rhythms, amplifying a feeling of disorientation and loss, the music feels united by its pulses of raw passion.
Find Pale Home on Spotify and elsewhere via Solid State Records.
Listen to “I Met You,” the album opener, below: