EP Review: GLDN - First Blood
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
First Blood is the debut release from New York artist and performer, Nicholas Golden, who has been working on material for the past five-years, with a view to bringing it to the stage as far back as 2019 (but delayed for some reason!).
Blending elements of Industrial, Dance, Metal and Punk, GLDN’s twenty-minute opening shot is a fierce combination of Nine Inch Nails and an in-his-prime Marilyn Manson. Full of pounding guitar and pulsing rhythms, First Blood is exhausting and exhilarating in equal measures.
Kicking off with Gravedigger, the NIN vibes are apparent from the outset as the track mixes pulsating industrial beats with powerful guitar and a simple, yet effective, bass riff. In the mode of The Fragile-era Reznor, Gravedigger sits with an understated aggression, that you’re never sure whether it will rear up at any time and tear your face off.
That foreshadowing is realised as the EP draws to a close. Following on from the interlude of (harmful if swallowed) – a two-minute intermission, beginning with a resigned sigh and dropping into an out of tune piano and ghostly voices – comes the records two most intense musical moments: This Must Be the Place and Parasite. The NIN comparisons return, this time in the more upbeat reflections of With Teeth or Year Zero. This Must Be the Place combines a harsh metallic guitar, cranking out weighty riffs, interspersed with Dance-inspired moments; whispered vocals come at you in waves as the snare drum fires rapid and unceasing shots.
The climax of This Must Be the Place flows perfectly into the Industrial screamer than is Parasite, which utilises every trope of the genre to deliver the only conclusion First Blood deserves. Heavy instrumentation and ferocious vocals offer an unrelenting barrage, tempered only by the occasional trance-like moments of respite, before the grinding metallic outro. As one final mess with the listener, Parasite ends with an unsettling nursery rhyme, which conjures images of Pennywise or Gacy’s Pogo more than it does some kindly clown.
This is all not to suggest GLDN’s First Blood debut is a Nine Inch Nails tribute record, as the title track and its successor, Ripe, edge away from Reznor and use slower progressions and drawn-out, tortured vocals, reminiscent of early-Marilyn Manson. Where First Blood is built around simple guitar lines, Ripe comes across as much bigger in its vast, widescreen presentation, combining sweeping, hypnotic musical motifs with breathless, bile-filled, rasping vocals.
Mr Golden has certainly laid down a marker with First Blood which proclaims great things to come from this creator. And, so what if he’s taking some of his cues from Trent Reznor? If you’re going to learn, you might as well do so from the best.