This Shame Should Not Be Mine by GGGOLDDDRelease date: April 1, 2022
Label: Artoffact Records
I first heard of GGGOLDDD through my fandom of bassist Danielle Warner’s other project Søwt, I was really excited to get stuck into this album because it touches subject matter close to my heart but, my fucking laptop died yet again and put me on the shelf for a few months. So, apologies to the band, I had a lot of stuff I was dealing with at the time a key facet of which I’ll be writing about to some extent in this review and the cost of living crisis is not helping but, now we’re back in action. Usually, I stick to track by track reviews so, I can go in depth on what I like across the album and spotlight individual contributions better. However, if you’ve heard This Shame Should Not Be Mine before, you’ll have noticed that it’s a well-accomplishment “concept album” with reoccurring motifs, themes and a consistency across the board so, with that said I’m gonna be a bit more cohesive in my writing approach here.
The album opens with pulsating bass and whirling, disorientating pitch bends, like nails dragging on a chalk board or an antique kettle boiling over on the hob. Each timbre lays the groundwork of gritted teeth and tension that will permeate across the album. The production viscous like oil dripping off each track, organic yet, electronica. Digital, yet analogue and it’s appropriate in so many ways. From the first cursory step into the album, we’re trapped in a tar pit, everyone involved understands exactly where this album is coming from and the listener is easily transported into its asphyxiating depths.
‘Strawberry Supper’ introduces a reoccurring pattern of songs driven by excellent vocal performances, traversing range and melody with ease to accentuate the themes each step of the way. GGGOLDDD are not simply making songs, they’re telling a fully realised story. As a victim of both sexual abuse and sexual assaults, as well as other forms of physical and mental abuse, I immediately felt drawn to this album from the title alone. Victimhood is the albatross we carry for the empathy our trauma teaches us, you scar me and I blame myself, you hurt me and I pity you. It’s a sad truth of life that, people who get abused often feel more remorse for their actions than those who chose to abuse others. Whether it’s a family member, or a stranger or a bully, a romantic/sexual partner or whoever else in your life, in their eyes they did what was right for them and that’s fine and yet, on the receiving end all you can do is learn from what happened. Even as I write this, I find myself in a rare instance of questioning my own self. Being assigned male at birth, it’s hard to not feel like some kind of imposter, commenting on sexual abuse and victimhood when I have had the inherent privilege of what some will call my gender and yet, I have fell victim to much of the same in my life. Yet, at the same time, I was never conditioned to submit, I was always conditioned to fight. I was never taught to be quiet or submissive, I was always taught to be free. And yet, when I was betrayed and abused by people I trusted and people I didn’t know alike, I didn’t want to fight, I didn’t want to hate anyone. I simply wanted to disappear. How can I hate the mangled psyche of those that would parasitically feed on me, when it’s the entire system we live in that is to blame? I wonder if this is a common quandary? I look at any bestial lack of self-control and see it as mental illness, a failing of the system to provide adequate mental health. I see myself almost as a teaching aid for life’s own cruel lessons. I think of the years I would sleep fully dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, I think of the days, I would stay up as late as possible; ever vigilant, I think of the years I isolated myself and neglected my personal hygiene to ward away evil spirits. I remember the feeling of my trauma forming in my mind, like a volcano of panic and a stabbing pain through my emotions, that has never stopped. I grew stronger around it all. Became stronger than the pain. I wrapped my inner child in a deep cocoon. I have led myself on a journey to become the parent I always needed. I have found the guidance in myself that others seek from organised religions that only ever failed me. I have chosen restraint when sexually assaulted as a young adult, knowing that life would punish my attackers and reward my restraints and that resistance would merely meet vendetta. Knowing that even though I have spent years throwing beer barrels around a music venue basement effortlessly. Knowing that I have fought fights and won. Knowing that I have smashed concrete slabs and furniture with sledgehammers with great ease. Knowing I have all the requisite strength, pent up anger and physical aptitude to not only subdue my attackers but, outright destroy them. I still freeze and disassociate. Then, I’m forced to rebuild the cocoon from the start as my inner child is once again an open wound. But, each time, I’m more equipped to deal with it. Each trigger becomes less potent. I choose healthy forms of catharsis and outlet. I have seen others desire my revenge, I have pondered it myself. How I would harm those who hurt me in life and even though, there’s a primal urge that it would satisfy, in my heart, I know it would be wrong. But, I take solace in knowing that the misery others have given me, they’ve carried it all along. I gain nothing from burning ashes, I gain nothing from killing those that are dead inside. I gain nothing from giving them any more than a passing thought and moving on. I carry the scars of an inherent misanthropy and distrust that can make me a good judge of character but, that also leaves me feeling alienated and easily socially exhausted. It’s coloured every moment of my adulthood life in one way or another. It’s brought terror to situations that should have brought excitement and joy. It’s left a vacuum, where there should have been purpose and fulfilment. It helped to lead me down a path of self-destruction and made me agonisingly suicidal from puberty through to my mid-twenties. I have carried the cross that wasn’t mine to bare and yeah, it makes you stronger and it teaches you things but, it never gets easier and I have truly suffered for the sins of another. I have came moments from my own death, all because I responded to selfishness with selflessness with the predator sheltering earnest of catholic guilt. Am I conditioned for compassion or simply conditioned to be complicit? Can I forgive and still have justice? Is my forgiveness valid if all I have done is withhold my wrath?
I wanted to share my experience here because I felt it pertinent to do so, young males in our society rarely speak out on this subject and yet, if the Catholic Church has taught us anything it’s that sexual predators are out there. There is nothing to be gained from in so many ways having to show people intimate wounds. I believe that if you have no relevant knowledge or experience on a topic, the best thing to do is shut the fuck up. As tempting as it is, you don’t need an answer for everything and sometimes the best way to allow the voices that need to be heard, to be heard is to step aside and allow others to speak.
This Shame Should Not Be Mine.
The lyrics on this album are marvellously direct. They may not be the most poetically written, but they’re all the more powerful for it. The album chronicles a relatable journey through the guilt, repulsion and shame of abuse trauma into the liberty of self-acceptance and empowerment. ‘Strawberry Supper’ was a track that I recall instantly drawing me in through the lyrics, that tackle the culture of patriarchy and misogyny:
“Sugar, strawberry supper
You called me sunshine
You tore me down
Did you ever think about the receipts I kept?
All the shit you left me with
Boys will be boys, that’s what everybody says
But it was you who put me on that ledge”
The second stanza really connected with me, in the respect that it talks about how all these little treasons that abusers perform for their own satisfaction leave scars on the minds of their victims forever. It festers inside of you building as a secret shame. It’s like carrying another person on your back everywhere you walk. ‘Spring’ captures the sense of repulsion and the sense of being perennially tainted, like the disgust you experienced will never wash off.
“I didn’t see it coming
I shed some light on the ferocious complexity
I want the smell to leave me
I wanna shower till my skin comes off”
‘Invisible’ again touches on some of this secrecy and repulsion:
“I try to keep it all a secret
From the depths of my gut
I wanna throw it all up
But I keep it all inside”
Whilst ‘On You’ is later in the album, I feel like it takes a position somewhere in between the stages of the journey. It’s interesting, this album comes at a point in my life where I am now starting to open about my experiences with CSA/Childhood Sexual Abuse. I have thought similar thoughts before, I have felt similar things before and I have made music about this subjects for years. So, I respect that the journey is not linear. Even as we reach the latter stage of the album, that is definitely a psychological ascent. The truth is that, you’re always scarred by this kind of trauma and sometimes you do look backwards and not forwards and sometimes it does still turn your stomach and sometimes it does still impact your intimacy or your social interactions.
“You put your filth on me
I will shake off that dirt
Whatever you throw at me is on you”
‘Notes On How To Trust’ is essentially where things start to change, the two songs in the middle seem to cover the process of stepping back and being able to see abuse trauma from a step back. It’s the beginning of the process of metamorphosis:
“Where do I go?
Who do I follow?
Who bring me joy?
Who bring me sorrow?
How do I make sure I don’t go through this again?
Do I even know the way?
I need space so I can make mistakes
Confidence will be my best revenge
So I can start to live again”
This theme continues into the title track with the cognisance of perspective, it shows that the vocalist is aware of how her experiences have shaped her both for good and bad:
“Who said I’m useless?
Who told me I’m to blame?
Stuck in this armour
I’m creased and crushed into this shape
Massive smoke rises
Consumes me whole
Killing me in silence
Where did it go wrong?
This shame should not be mine
This shame should not be mine”
Ultimately, ‘Beat by Beat’ offers some closure, I like this song thematically as an album closer because it acknowledges that when recovery is hard, baby steps are all you need to do.
“It’s time for some healing now
I will give myself a break
I need it, I want it, I take it now
Push myself up
Bit by bit
Crack of my joints
Hit by hit
I need to move my body
Beat by beat
Beat by beat
Beat by beat”
I have never presented lyrics in such a way for a review before but, I feel like this album deserves a great deal of attention and recognition because the subject matter is quite possibly the most important of any release of our time. I would guess that every woman you know will have experienced some form of sexual abuse or harassment, many will have experienced multiple incidents. I cannot disregard the contributions of the rest of the band on this album. But, I could write another 2000 words about how important it is that we discuss and prevent sexual abuse in our society, regardless of gender, regardless of sexuality. The band has crafted a musically captivating, excellently produced sound bed for this paramount dialogue to exist and that is an absolutely excellent songwriting achievement. I do apologise for not spending more time discussing the individual layers and instruments. This Shame Should Not Be Mine is quite simply essential listening. A cathartic experience or an educational one, an in all avenues powerful and magnetic. One of the most politically significant and important albums I’ve ever reviewed and a personally comforting and rewarding listen too. Thanks GGGOLDDD, this album really moved me.