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REVIEW: Handheld Demise – Gonemage

Cara Neir - Gonemage - Handheld Demise

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I’m not exactly certain how I came across the cacophonous orgy of punk/black-metal/pop bastardry that is Garry Brents’ solo project, Gonemage. I wish I could tell you it was while playing a Rogue class character in an 8-bit dreamworld of Fantasy demons and ogres (I fucking wish) – but that would be lying. Instead, I‘m left to dwell on the find of a lifetime that just so happened to be me, a connoisseur of the strange and bizarre, discovering a creator of the strange and bizarre, in the obscure online netherworld that is Twitter.

To those unfamiliar with the short lived music sub-genre that is Nintendocore, thanks to the masturbatory wanking of bands like Horse the Band or even (god forbid) Hella, Gonemage might be a coarse pill to swallow. Not because you need to be into Nintendocore but it does help to understand the appeal of the avant- guarde bullshit manic schizoid tracks that Garry Brent spits out of his dark cauldron of heavy metal tomfoolery. Still, stopping at just Nintendocore would be a mistake.

Handheld Demise – Gonemage

Gonemage’s Handheld Demise delves into black metal and blast beats as much as it does pop punk. It’s a meeting of the far reaches of the minds that originally conceived those genres of music and throws a spanner into the gears that make black metal, pop punk and hardcore work. It’s Dillinger Escape Plan meets Aura Noir on an 8 track fed at four times the speed in ‘Disdainful Stroke’ and ‘Weaponless Scream, Laughter Unseen.’ Then in ‘Slowly I Watch the Shockwave’ it’s sitting on a beach at the end of the world with your loved one during a summers day as you wait for the bombshell to drop.

Garry Brents takes the meaning of experimental, twists and contorts into a blathering mess of fun and unseemly nostalgic soundtracks. When the blast beats aren’t melting your brain with a non-stop assault, it’s the 8-bit synth that’ll leave your jaw collecting radioactive dust mites on the floor. Just when you feel like you’re done with this record the bounding punk anthem ‘Dahan-dahang Nagpapababa’ which sounds like the adventurous destruction of what happens if you ran over a Gremlin with a pick-up truck, injects that much lifeblood back into your veins and is the perfect pick me up.

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Handheld Demise - Gonemage
‘Handheld Demise’ album cover – Gonemage

‘Chase of the Daemon Glow’ is clearly the loud and boisterous death metal track that flirts on the border of being a lost forever piece of music that was discarded in the final selection of Castlevania movements (the game, not the show). Before ending with the chattering of a chorus of Goblins yammering at the adventurer (which is you, the listener) about which is the right way to venture? Now that you’ve hit a fork in the road?

‘From Walls to Woods’ ends Handheld Demise in a way which is both expected and a complete surprise all at the same time. There’s a convergence of all styles like two warring races hitting the battlefield with an unstoppable vengeance. A quiet melancholy hits as serious as a stroke before these almost operatic vocals take over in a forced way. Before this synth redux sees out the eventual end of the song and the album.

Handheld Demise is easily the most experimental Gonemage record. It goes places that few fans of the project will expect it to go. Handheld Demise is a welcome respite of equal parts fun and ferocity in a world where music is rarely tested to this extent. This is a soundtrack to escape to. A record broken and then pierced back together. The result of which is perfectly imperfect.

Gonemage’s Handheld Demise goes on sale through Bandcamp on 30th September, 2022.

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What did you think of this review?

Has it convinced you to check out Gonemage? Let us know in comments below.

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Garry

Garry of Gonemage here. Thanks for the in-depth and spot-on writeup! Glad that you’re enjoying the wild ride of this project and album, as it takes many twists and turns and will continue to do so. Cheers.

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