King Goat‘s got a problem. Their debut made Record o’ the Year here at Angry Metal Guy dot Com, which means that they are gonna have a hell of a time besting their previous performance. In fact, for the most part, I’d argue that expectations are probably the bigger part of the so-called ‘sophomore slump’ than we give them credit for. And Conduit was a doozy of a full-length debut. So when King Goat got picked up by Aural Music, I was both excited for them and worried. Were they going to be able to hit the high mark that 2016’s Conduit nailed? Would the material be strong enough?
Debt of Aeons has a thick, plodding sound that is not so different from its predecessor and it picks up where Conduit left off. The songs on here are long, with fat riffs and solid groove. They balance somewhere between a modern—but slightly muddy—doom and a gentle hat tip to the early work of Candlemass. While they are given the genre “progressive doom,” their material isn’t so much progressive as it is expansive. The album isn’t overrun with polyrhythms and the band’s skills don’t give the impression that they’re virtuosos, but that doesn’t stop Debt of Aeons from having a huge and, at times, unpredictable presence.
Similar to its predecessor, Trim’s vocals help to take this record to another level. His performance is operatic, desperate, varied and intense. His sense of melody and ability to move between styles with ease litters these songs with endless hooks. “Eremite’s Rest” demonstrates him moving between his Messiahesque vibrato and a brutal, crazy rasp. While Conduit featured some great vocal performances, Debt of Aeons continues this with the added benefit of some even better hooks. Opening track “Rapture” has an addictive chorus, while “Doldrum Sentinels” features Trim at his most melodramatic. At times the vocals remind me of Primordial‘s Alan Averill, where the absolute drama of the performance can convince me of almost anything.
Debt of Aeons is five standout tracks of King Goat‘s atmospheric and epic doom metal. While the songs are longer, they don’t feel any less powerful than Conduit‘s material. Though I do find the atmospheric track “Psychasthenia,” basically just builds up to “Doldrum Sentinels” to kill my immersion in the album. As the band’s music is quite minimalist at times, I don’t feel like this kind of stuff carries the same kind of weight as the other material. On the other hand, it’s three minutes of the album—so take that for what it is. And, of course, when the closer “On Dusty Avenues” finally craws to its close, it makes me want to start the album over again.
So does it live up to Conduit? I’m not sure that’s possible. But does it fall into the dreaded territory of “sophomore slump?” Hardly! Debt of Aeons does all of the things King Goat does well. The songs are epic, heart-wrenching affairs which are littered with great ideas and an absolutely outstanding vocal performance. The sound is basically in line with its predecessor and I can imagine these songs being stunning live. I have to say that I’m satisfied to see these guys getting the kind of love that they deserve in the world of metal. They definitely deserve it and Debt of Aeons has demonstrated that once again.