Goblinsmoker – A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze Review

Since humans transitioned from hunter/gatherers to agrarian life, bread, in some form or another, has been a staple of diets around the globe. However, long standing wisdom of the pithy folk variety says that one cannot live on it alone. This makes sense, because as another well worn truism goes, variety is the spice of life. And since we live in the internet age, we can look up what would actually happen to the body on a bread-only diet. I’ll save you the extra step: it’s nasty. There is some water in bread, but not enough to offset the sodium, which would build up in your bloodstream until you slipped into a coma. Even if you allowed drinking water along with eating bread, the lack of vitamin C means you would die of scurvy faster than a pirate metal band roadie. Riffs are the bread-like staple of the metal world, and anecdotal evidence on this very site suggests it might be possible to live on riffs alone. UK stoner doom band Goblinsmoker presents an ideal opportunity to test the sustainability of a riff-only diet with their second release A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze.

Goblinsmoker‘s Toad King began a narrative arc about amphibious forest dwellers who are served by a goblin underclass. A Throne In Haze… is the second installment of the planned trilogy. While fun, this story is superfluous, since the lyrics are sparse and delivered in an unintelligible blackened rasp. A Throne In Haze… is a trim 26 minutes over three songs, and it’s all riffs, baby. No choruses, bridges or solos interrupt the flow from one massive, sludgy stoner riff to another. This is Electric Wizard worship with the stark atmosphere of Grief. So in order to determine the effects of this riff-exclusive diet, we first need a test subject other than myself, as the process may negate my ability to objectively document outcomes. Looking at those accessible to me who wouldn’t resist the experiment, I selected my almost two-year-old son.

Music is important to toddlers, teaching them vocabulary and helping them manage emotions. Most of the Cherdlet‘s toys play music, so I removed batteries and waited. As soon as he mashed a toy’s button with the palm of his chubby hand, I pressed play on opener “Smoked In Darkness.” In place of a giggly song about how carrots are crunchy, a stark bass line intro led into a huge Sabbathian riff. Once the full distortion hit, his little brow furrowed and his hands clutched his tummy. I assumed this had to do with the deep, fuzzy guitar tone, and three minutes into “Let Them Rot” this was confirmed as three cymbal hits preceded a monstrously down tuned riff. Suddenly the Cherdlet squatted down, stood back up and pulled at his waistline to indicate there was a pooper in his dooper. Having also shit myself, I noted that Goblinsmoker‘s huge riffs were capable of literally vacating bowels. He eventually built up tolerance, but this remained a logistical issue.

Following an adjustment period, the subject responded more positively as riff exposure increased, though some negative health effects also emerged. Replacing our routine of singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” with “The Forest Mourns” proved beneficial. Instead of miming the spider’s Sisyphean water spout ascent, we all solemnly banged our heads to the simple but infectious grooves and thundering drums, contemplating futility. His daycare, accustomed to accommodating dietary restrictions, had no trouble with the all-riff diet. No other parents had indicated their children couldn’t have riffs, so music time in the toddler room was replaced for a solid week with Goblinsmoker. His teachers reported that while the repetitive, lurching doom made the children more docile, the almost uniform song structures eventually eroded their ability to locate their heads, shoulders, knees and toes. The sudden spike in bowel movements also proved problematic.

Throughout the experiment, the subject maintained reasonably good health. Bags formed under his eyes and his behavior became more languid and predictable, but the riffs on A Throne In Haze, A World Ablaze proved sufficiently dank to maintain well over 60% functionality. That said, a small stretch of “Let Them Rot” convinced me to end the test. In the album’s 26 minutes, only one cut loose with a sudden blast beat-like tempo shift while maintaining a central riff. The resulting surprise and appreciation in the subject’s eyes helped me realize that more such moments of variation would increase functionality. Goblinsmoker are more nutritious than your average white bread stoner doom, but these riffs can’t sustain one for long in isolation. My study suggests they function much better as part of a balanced diet.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Sludgelord Records
Websites: goblinsmoker.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Goblinsmoker
Releases Worldwide: February 7th, 2020

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