It wasnt very long into Year of the Goats sophomore effort, The
Unspeakable, that I was asking myself, self, is this the second coming of
Ghost The answer is no, since that happens next month and itll be their
third coming (or two and a half since I didnt care much for Infestissumam),
but this here platter certainly has a lot of similarities to the goods
provided by those mysterious masked ghouls. Their sound is part of the growing
and nebulous occult rock genre, and along with the aforementioned influence,
theres a good deal of In Solitude, Witchfinder General and Blue Oyster Cult,
peppered with a goth rock flavor. This makes for quite the old school
listening experience, light on mystery but heavy on atmosphere and mood.
The Goat definitely likes to gamble Because theyre eeevil AMG, opting as
they did to place a nearly thirteen minute song as the lead off track. And
those who dare win, since All He Has Read is a slobberknocker of a tune
steeped in the excesses of the 70s and early 80s metal and prog rock scenes.
There are traces of early Fates Warning, Mercyful Fate and all sorts of NWoBHM
magic wrapped into it, and it feels like several good songs melded into one
great one; full of hooks, interesting peaks and valleys, and with a dark and
haunting mood. The musicianship is tight and this will undoubtedly be a strong
contender for Song o the Year.
Elsewhere, Pillars of the South sounds like a mash-up of Agents of
Fortune-era Blue Oyster Cult (especially the guitars) mixed with 70s Styx,
and while the prog vibe is strong, the song itself is immediate, addicting and
rocking. The Emma veers into trippy realms, blending The Doors psychedelic
noodling with recent Pain of Salvation angst and singer Thomas Sabbathi (aka
Thomas Eriksson from Griftegrd) sounds an awful a lot like PoSs Daniel
Gildenlw with all the drawn out dramatic pauses and whispers.
The balance of The Unspeakable sticks to the same groovy, slightly 70s,
Ghost-centric model, incorporating this influence or that, mostly to good
effect. The Wind stands out by having a much stronger goth vibe, recalling
H.I.M. and even Peter Murphy and it works well, especially come chorus time.
The goth elements also infect Black Sunlight and the astute goth fan will
hear traces of Charon filtered through the prism of flower power culture and
you may find yourself waiting for the band to burst into Age of Aquarius.
While there are no weak songs, the excellence of the introductory magnum opus
makes a few later cuts seem a bit pale and bloodless by comparison, which is
unfortunate as this is a very solid and enjoyable album. My biggest gripe is
with closing track Riders of Vultures, which is a good song that simply
doesnt know when to end, and the lack of trimming ends up making it feel
Without a doubt, the key to Year of the Goats appeal is Thomas Sabbathis
singing. He has the perfect voice for this kind of music, sounding like a mix
of Ghosts Papa Emeritus III Really, all of the Papa Emeriti, if were to be
honest AMG and Pelle hman of In Solitude. His odd, fragile delivery will
remind many of the vocals on In Solitudes Sister album, and a lot of the rich
mood that made that album so good is present here as well. The mans voice
just has that certain something that makes occult and goth rock work and
without his unique presence, I doubt this album would be as impactful. The
guitar work by Marcus Lundberg and Don Palmroos is also very engaging and rich
in mood and emotion, effectively conveying the feeling of rituals, black
candles and pentagrams while keeping things rocking and just a bit unusual.
They borrow a lot from Blue Oyster Cults bag o tricks and mix it with goth
and metal in a way that makes it seem new and interesting. This rests on top
of the flappy, jangly bass work from Tobias Resch which is ubiquitous without
ever feeling intrusive. This is a tight band with an interesting sound and
style and that goes a long way.
Definitely one of the bigger surprises this year, The Unspeakable was good
enough to send me searching for the bands older material and more notably, to
preach their merits to the notoriously hostile, jaded and maladroit AMG staff.
And hey, if Ghosts new outing falls flat, at least we got a dose of righteous
Devil rock from Year of the Goat. Vote Goat