Loud Guitar Goth Update 2: Rope Sect
Hymns of our inevitable doom.
Three years ago, we were introduced to Loud Guitar Goth. The passage of time has broken Bandcamp embeds and spirits alike, but now the time is upon us to catch up with the artists from this not-at-all made up niche. Here’s part two of the 2020 Loud Guitar Goth Update. Part one is over there.
Rope Sect – The Great Flood
Iron Bonehead Productions* | August 12, 2020
The question that is bound to arise after a phenomenal debut EP is if a band can go the distance and produce an equally enticing full-length. I’d say Rope Sect’s debut is very nearly the best outcome you could hope for in this regard. The Great Flood is immediately familiar in its sound and structure, but doesn’t neglect to enrich the formula a little bit.
The opening one-two punch is exactly what I wanted to hear: the trademark Rope Sect sound of twanging guitars, crashing cymbals, and the singer’s fantastic, soft croon. I’m not exactly sure what to attribute it to, but here as well as throughout most of the album, the band sounds confident as all hell. Perhaps there’s a dash of punk bravado in the riffs that was absent before, but in any case, the songs have a biting edge to them that feels very satisfying. Much as on Personae Ingratae, the third track is where we delve into softer tones for the first time, and while I might have wished for a more dynamic song—it’s easy to envision a grand, anthemic chorus rising from the desolate verses—I still like “Eleutheria” quite a bit better than “Pretty Life” from the EP. For slightly more objective proof that Rope Sect has also gotten better at the somber side of their sound, look no further than the preview track “Hiraeth,” in which they successfully marry utter gloom to their more dynamic side.
Much as I love the singer’s style, it can’t really be denied that vocal range is not exactly his strong suit. It’s therefore quite understandable that for the sake of variety, the band brought in a guest singer on two tracks, and Mat “Kvohst” McNerney (of Beastmilk and Grave Pleasures, amongst others) does indeed bring the variety, so much so that I first thought he was two different guys. “Prison of You” is the less successful of his performances. In all fairness to him, the song itself is not too great; while the second half breaks into an unprecedented bluesy riff, it doesn’t really go anywhere interesting with it, and in combination with the vocals that occasionally remind me of a dimestore Danzig, it kind of falls flat. Kvohst strikes quite different notes on “Flood Flower,” however, and with the help of better songwriting manages to make this into a standout track. I particularly like the bridge that dramatically climbs from the minimal verse and opens into the beautiful duet in the chorus.
Approaching the potential vocal problem from a different angle is “Non Serviemus,” an instrumental track. It boasts perhaps the most metal riff of the album, reminding me of a laidback Megadeth. That’s not something we’ve heard from Rope Sect before, and I would have loved to hear it paired with equally novel vocal lines, but as it is, the lead guitar is left to fill in the blanks, which it does more or less successfully. Not a highlight, but it serves its purpose well enough. Speaking of highlights, I’m a little hard put to name tracks that jump out at me like “Tarantist” and “King of the Night” from the EP did with their incredibly catchy choruses. On the other hand, nothing on the album feels as forgettable as the second half of Personae Ingratae did to me. I think the quality is spread out more evenly across the material. I haven’t mentioned all of them, but there are at least 6 out of the 10 songs that I can’t see a fan of Rope Sect being unhappy with, even if they may take a bit longer to nestle into your brain, and while the remainder is a mixed bag, the majority of it is far from bad. So yes, Rope Sect can certainly go the distance, and I’m very happy they finally did.
The Great Flood came out on August 12.
*Disclaimer: It should be noted that Iron Bonehead has some connections to nazi bands. The Bandcamp link leads to the band’s own page, who, according to this, flippantly deny sharing right-wing ideology. Make of this what you will.