From Turkey a small but steady stream of extreme metal acts has issued forth since at least the 90’s. One underground band that have been raised to a kind of cult status is Pagan, whose demo Heathen Upheaval made some waves even outside of the lands previously known as the Ottoman Empire. Gökböri is a relatively speaking recently founded project, put together by former Pagan member Emre, together with Jesse from Daylight Dies back in 2009. A debut album called Babal was released in 2013, and now the sophomore is upon us.
The style is basically heavy, aggressive thrash in the vein of 80’s Destruction and Kreator, except with a more modern production and a few touches of black metal and rock. The vocals are also far more grunting than most of the German thrash lengends – not quite growls, but not far from it either. The result is a pure metal album, showcasing everything from pumping, groovy parts in the title track, to more traditional, fast-paced thrash assaults in songs like “Karabaslara Donus” and “Kormosler Gormezler”.
The two last tracks differ in style a bit from the rest of the album, giving a slightly more experimental impression. That is not to say that the psychedelic wah-wah pedals are brought out, but the style of both are just different. Especially the final track “Cift Basli Kartal” is something else, with its slow and very black metal like intro riff, and heavy metal follow up. It closes out the album in an excellent manner.
As the observant and logically minded reader may have understood from certain clues above, the song titles and lyrics are all in Turkish. But not just any Turkish, but ancient Turkish. Metal bands singing in their native language is always a positive thing, and when they do so in ancient versions of these, it is of course even better. Gökböri’s lyrics are based on Turkish folklore and traditions (the album title refers to the mythical underworld, for instance), which rounds out the whole language/culture thing perfectly.
Erlik is a great piece of thrash/heavy/black metal, full of classic metal riffing and a clear but suitably rough production. Add to that brutal grunting in ancient Turkish about the Körmösler – ghosts appearing at dusk and dawn – and you’ve got quite the solid piece of metal. Heavily, turkishly recommended. Available on CD and and vinyl from Hammer Müzik.