01. Know Your Animal
02. Alpha Omega
04. Full Moon at Noon
05. Oracle Pt. 1: The Mist
06. Oracle Pt. 2
07. King One
08. Tentacles of Zen
Doom vocalist Chritus Linderson is on a roll. He took a hiatus from music, then returned to the doom fray at the helm of Lord Vicar, the brainchild of Kimi Karki (ex-Reverend Bizarre), releasing at least one album that will be counted among the true masterpieces of the doom genre in the 21st century. Now, he’s launched another band, Goatess, and its first album may well be another addition to that list of instant doom classics.
What sets this album apart from a lot of traditional doom revivalists, apart, that is, from the credentials brought to the table by Chritus? Most of all, the music. Yes, it’s clearly rooted in traditional metal, orthodox doom and a snifter or two of vintage stoner metal, to say nothing of the 70s hard rocking legacy underlying all these styles. But there’s nothing staid or stale about the way this band approaches its idiom. Rather than a whiff of mothballs, these songs evoke the heady, ozone-laced atmosphere that precedes a thrilling thunderstorm.
Consider the opening track, ‘Know Your Animal’. Commencing with a pedal-point riff that’s pure traditional metal, it moves into a power chord driven, fuzz-saturated refrain that cleverly works in references to the original melody. Chritus sings like a more craggy, yet soaring Ozzy, openly referencing the batmuncher’s delivery on ‘Never Say Die’, yet the song and the singer retain more original identity than the Orchids of the world. ‘Alpha Omega’ starts with a riff that is pure traditional doom: slow, melancholy and earth-shaking. Chritus cuts in with bluesy, confrontational vocals over a lurching, staccato riff, and then launches into a plaintive, wailing chorus over a vast, melodic riff. The changes are so organic, so fitting that the song pulls you along effortlessly. Songwriting of this caliber goes beyond questions of influence and style; its sheer excellence cannot help but draw you in.
Then there’s ‘Ripe’, where the bass introduces an instantly memorable, slow, bluesy figure that the guitarist then picks up, adding depth and warmth. We’ve heard this gambit before, but the riff in question is so good, the delivery so assured, and the subsequent changes so effective that there is no questioning the validity of this old-school-rooted approach or the freshness which inspired music-making like this brings to the mix. I could continue praising each song in a dreary track-by-track commentary, but let me just call attention to the kraut-rinsed jamming on ‘King One’ and the slightly Eastern, very psychedelic touches on ‘Tentacles of Zen’.
It’s hard to believe this band began as a weekend jam thing. There’s not a single throwaway element: all the songs stretch over 7 minutes (with a solitary exception, which is anyway part of a longer song-suite), and that running time isn’t the product of shapeless noodling but of satisfying, long-form structures packed with memorable melodies, riffs and vocals. It isn’t just a Chritus showcase, although the range and variety he displays is dazzling – Niklas is a versatile guitarist with mountains of feel and Findus and Kenta prove to be a dynamic, tasteful rhythm section, always wonderfully idiomatic. Goatess shows the would-be old school doomsters of the world how it’s done: not with slavish imitations of the past but by building on a legacy in an imaginative, individualistic way, neither intimidated by nor disdainful of influences. In other words, it’s a bloody good doom-metal-hard-rock-stoner-psych album and you really ought to go give it a listen.