Following in the footsteps of the band’s 2021 concept albums, Gonemage returns with the next chapter in Galimgim’s fantastical journey. The narrative concept is very much interesting, but even more engaging is the creative process behind the album: peer-submitted nightmares atop a jaw-dropping list of 44 collaborators and contributors (“nightmare sprites”) of various instruments and vocals… and this doesn’t even touch on the bizarre but highly endearing fusion of genres behind this manic creation.
The variance in the compositions and the genres that comprise them is something quite special. What starts out as very much chiptune-dominant metal, such as “Disdainful Stroke” and “Dahan-dahang Nagpapababa,” veers into the realm of punk with songs like “Weaponless Scream, Laughter Unseen” and “The Equation to Levitation and the Chase of the Blood Feast.” There’s even a detectable trace of hardcore/post-punk in pieces like “The Suffering and Endurance” and “Stairwell of Gore and the Faceless Apparition,” the latter’s slow builds and breakdowns more customary of Converge than the somewhat more electro-Cannibal Corpse debut. The final flavors are bits of indie rock, like in “Slowly I Watch the Shockwave,” whereas “The Smelting Madman” is more Grimes-like in its chilled-out synthwave stylings; all quite varied and yet united by a common digital thread and narrative.
Overall, Handheld Demise is a bizarre yet deeply fascinating oeuvre that is as ambitious as it is unconventional. To blaze such novel trails is a rarity in the current age, and although the album’s polymorphous fusions may test the open-mindedness of its listeners, its boldness is commendable and execution laudable – unapologetically strange and unequivocally worth a listen.