Year of the Goat_The UnspeakableIt wasn’t very long into Year of the Goat‘s 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 it’ll be their third coming (or two and a half since I didn’t 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, there’s 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 they’re 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 WarningMercyful 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 Griftegård) sounds an awful a lot like PoS‘s Daniel Gildenlöw 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 doesn’t know when to end, and the lack of trimming ends up making it feel tedious.

Year of the Goat_2015a

Without a doubt, the key to Year of the Goat‘s appeal is Thomas Sabbathi’s singing. He has the perfect voice for this kind of music, sounding like a mix of Ghost‘s Papa Emeritus III [Really, all of the Papa Emeriti, if we’re to be honest – AMG] and Pelle Åhman of In Solitude. His odd, fragile delivery will remind many of the vocals on In Solitude‘s Sister album, and a lot of the rich mood that made that album so good is present here as well. The man’s 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 Cult‘s 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 band’s older material and more notably, to preach their merits to the notoriously hostile, jaded and maladroit AMG staff. And hey, if Ghost‘s new outing falls flat, at least we got a dose of righteous Devil rock from Year of the Goat. Vote Goat!

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Releases Worldwide: July 31st, 2015

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  • ZEbyiUWvbe

    Funny, I was just listening to this album when the review appeared in my RSS reader!
    Based on the review text I had expected a 4.0 at least as the score.

    • Some amazing songs, some good songs, some very good songs, it all averaged out to a 3.5.

    • basenjibrian

      I am quite enjoying this. Not as silly as their previous release, which rubbed this anti-theist the wrong way. (Worshipping a silly inverted Christian deity is still worshipping nonsense). Somehow not as obvious here, although the lyrics of course.

  • Dr_Fisting

    Two thoughts:
    1. This album’s really good.
    2. I think it’s time to stop referring to anyone as being “influenced” by Ghost. Ghost themselves are about as derivative as it gets, and seem to be inspired entirely by BÖC and Mercyful Fate. If a new band comes along that resembles BÖC or Mercyful Fate, better to give credit where it’s due.

    • I think it’s fair to call them “influenced by Ghost” in the sense that I’m not sure they would exist if Ghost hadn’t gotten so popular. Like when major labels started picking up metalcore there was suddenly a TON OF IT available for the signing. Similar kind of thing.

    • Keep your mitts out of my review zone, Fisting!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    This is the perfect soundtrack to playing Goat Simulator, can’t bleat it. Nice to hear some not boring occult/Devil rock for a change!

    • Kronos

      We should assemble a playlist of great caprus-themed metal for release to our fans.

      I’m actually serious about this.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Everyone needs 5 picks minimum!

        • Kronos

          I’d totally start this if you’re in. I don’t care that it means I have to sign in to spotify for the first time in a year.

          • Francesco Bordoni

            My entries:
            – Melvins / Night Goat
            – Belphegor / Bondage Goat Zombie
            – Impaled Nazarene / The Lost Art Of Goat Sacrificing
            – Autopsy / Running From The Goathead

          • basenjibrian

            As a California bicyclist, the term “Goathead” has an annoying and expensive meaning. They are nasty little thorns that look just like goatheads! Lost many a tube to the pernicious little vines!

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Hell, I’ll get Spotify for this!

  • I like how this reads “The Unspeakable Review,” like our review was unspeakable.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I have no doubt that the next Ghost record is going to be awesome (Infes was awesome btw, bite me) but in the interim, this is right up my alley.

  • Who needs reviews when you have Photoshop? You could’ve saved yourself 800 words, Druhm!

    • This should be our new thing.

      • It would be pretty amazing if we had any talent at all. Unfortunately, no.

    • Kronos

      This image needs wider dissemination.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      (c) Honest Album Art on Facebook.
      Credit where it’s due.

      • I didn’t grab it from there because I’d not seen it before I was on the forum.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          That’s how it works with images on the internet. Not faulting you for that, just giving some props to a page I think is pretty good.

    • Awesome. did you craft this or steals?

    • I’m old enough to be a fan of Blue Oyster Cult before the SNL “More Cowbell” skit. :) heh.

  • Aah I like this. I also like the album cover, though I have thing for monochrome artwork. But still!

  • Wilhelm

    This was alright, but didn’t sound at all like Ghost…The singer reminds me of some alt rocker in the 90’s, I can’t place my finger on the band though.

    • Radiohead? :)

      • doom-erik

        Yep he sounds a lot like Thom Yorke (I think thats his name) in the embedded track. Quite different from his vocals in Griftegård…

      • Wilhelm

        Yeah, that’s it!

    • What?? Go listen to Ghost some more, son.

      • Wilhelm

        I’m a Ghost fan for several years now – besides being in the general occult rock sound, I just can’t draw similarities in riffs, vocals or atmosphere …but that’s just based on this song, I haven’t heard the rest of the album.

  • doom-erik

    Liked their debut, so I am looking forward to hear this. But even more importantly – will there ever be another Griftegård album?

    • Metal Archives says they’re split up.

      • doom-erik

        That’s a shame. Their first (and last?) album was a modern epic doom metal classic.

        • I’ve honestly never heard them. Guess I gotta check ’em out, now.

          • doom-erik

            You really should. Very melodic but with an almost funeral doom-like heaviness. Great emotional vocals. Contrary to Year of the Goat, they do sing a lot about Mr Jesus, although not in a very positive sense. The main songwriter is a dropout from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

          • Dogman

            Thanks for mentioning this! Stellar singing and psychotic Christian dread, what a unique gem.

      • doom-erik

        I just checked their Facebook and it seems they are actually working on a new album :)

  • There’s something about it that is eerie, and kind of King Diamond-esque without quite the highs King can hit.

    And it’s a bit slower than King’s usual fare. But damnit, I’m going to stick with my comparison, because I’ve typed this far. :)

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Just ordered this. Really liked Sacre Moni too, even though it got a bad score. If it effectively reminds me of the decades my parents lived in, I usually find something to like. This sounds good, although I think the comparisons seem pretty justified.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I’m sure the ancient Chinese astrologers saw this coming

  • Innit Bartender

    Three (3) BOC mentions in one review = interest sparked
    Also: what’s with goats recently? There seems to be a lot of Goat-something around. (Yes, I’ve been listening to Goatsnake lately)

    • Dr? Gonzalo Salazar

      Goats are the spheres of 2015.

  • sir_c

    The vocals also remind me a bit of Gazpacho

  • Martin Langley

    A great band that I’ve never heard of. Thanks for the interesting review.

  • Merijn Kooijman

    You should have dropped some more names in this review, like Muse.

    : – )

    • ActualBastard

      Yes, heavy Muse vibes here.