Passion project from experienced Greek metalheads
The Horned Goddess is more than just the first album from a band you’ve probably never heard of. It’s the result of several years of work, and one man’s passion. But the question is, if the passion alone will make it worth listening to?
A joint party of talent
H2Ocean is a groove / thrash metal project from Athens. It’s not a traditional band, however, since the roots of the band, and it’s entire base of existence, can be traced back to one single man: George Katsamakis. A man with an otherwise relatively modest repertoire, when it comes to his traceable history in the metal scene. Despite this, he has since 2016 been working diligently on making The Horned Goddess a reality. He himself has been responsible for writing out the guitar melodies and lyrics. It is especially within the lyrics I find the before-mentioned passion shining through the brightest.
To bring the project to life, he has recruited talent from the Greek metal scene. The vocals are brought to us by Makis Makoulas, who uses his not necessarily unique, but still powerful screaming in the Athenian stoner-metal band Beyond Perception – among other.
A person, I was especially excited to see be a part of the band, is bassist Herc Booze, whom I have previously heard play in the heavy metal band Diviner. He is also a bandmate in SiXforNinE with the programmer of the drums in H2Ocean, George Kapa.
When I tried to find out more regarding who was behind the drums on The Hornded Goddess, I was not just a little surprised to discover, that we are dealing with programmed drums. It’s a bit of a shame, since I do think a bit of creative input from a dedicated drummer could have helped the album on its way. I will not come down on them too hard for this choice, though, since I have honestly heard worse drumming from flesh and blood several times before. It is, however, still a choice that makes the rhythm sections of the album a bit more predictable, than they would have been otherwise.
A man with a message
I mentioned earlier, that the lyrics reflected a deep passion in the music. This is very clear from the first track, which also serves as the album’s title track. ”The Horned Goddess” seems to clearly refer to some sort of personification of mother nature, whom will very soon punish humanity for the ways we abuse both land and sea for our benefit. Wrath and disappointment in the human race is probably the most clear theme running through this album, and I got to say, that Makoulas does an excellent work communicating the frustration through his vocals, especially considering that the lyrics were not written by him.
From a musical standpoint, The Horned Goddess is a little special, because in its technical qualities, it’s on a very high level. Which is what you should expect when such experienced musicians join forces. At the same time, there is a vague sense of something ”stitched-together”, that I really can’t shake while listening to it. When I say ”stitched-together”, I’m saying that it doesn’t necessarily feel very organically composed in a lot of areas. It’s not to say that it feels artificial. But there is absolutely none of the raw charm or random bouts of creativity, that you would often find on a band’s first release. This probably has a lot to do with the style of writing and composition, under which the album has been put together.
A bunch of things have been tried in order to remedy this, for example a spoken word piece on the track ”Change of Heart”, which could either be described as ‘a bit too much’ or very evocative, completely depending on what mood you find yourself being in. A creative decision I really appreciated, though, is a guest vocal spot for the singer Marah Kay on the track ”Dehumanized”. She was without a doubt what made that specific song stand out to me the most, after my first listening of the album
Saved by fervor and engagement
It would be very easy for some people to write this album off as being a mediocre groove/thrash project. I, however, can’t help being a bit impressed about how organic the passion behind the whole thing is, even if the compositions themselves often sound a bit more studio-build than what I would have liked. It is still very admirable that one single man can get an idea, recruit help from his nation’s metal scene and then release a very competent album, which will definitely satisfy fans of the genre to at least some degree.