By now I think it must be obvious to all and sundry that there is something in the water in Sweden, something that twists musicians there and pushes them toward the darker side of rock. Witness this latest bunch of horn-raising, left-hand-path-walking necromancers, Year Of The Goat – purveyors of rock music so dark that an arena full of raised lighters couldn’t pierce their enshrouding penumbra.
Veering away from the more overtly metallic side of darkness, Year Of The Goat have much in common with fellow Swedes Ghost in their appropriation of tonal themes and values from the mighty Blue Öyster Cult, but whereas the nameless ghouls of Ghost temper their BÖC-isms with a healthy dose of metal in the form of Mercyful Fate, Year Of The Goat incline more toward the dark side of classic rock such as The Doors and shaded nuances of more recent bands such as Babylon Whores, Sólstafir and even Him.
In fact vocalist Thomas Eriksson has much of the same tone to his voice as Ville Valo, frontman of Him, when singing in a more subdued fashion, however, when Eriksson busts out with more fire and aggression – as on their significantly more rockin’ than the original cover of ‘Dark Lord’ by Sam Gopal (originally sung by Lemmy, fact fans!) – he has much of the same passion and grit in his voice as legendary Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, although not quite reaching Wagner’s sheer range and screaming banshee heights.
Opening number ‘Of Darkness’ draws the ear with an intro massively reminiscent of both the crystalline picked intro to Metallica’s ‘The Call Of Ktulu’ and the beautiful, glassy guitar shimmer of BÖC’s immortal ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ and continues in that vein for five gorgeous minutes. Subtly harmonised lead guitar and lyrics about the lord of darkness alone would win me over, but the rest of the song is so damn strong I defy you NOT to love it.
‘Vermillion Clouds’ follows with a darker, bassier, tone and a more urgent, snappy delivery, but still dripping with those lovely Buck Dharma-esque guitars, intertwining in cycles above a driving rhythm pushing the track to the very end.
‘Dark Lord’ is, as I mentioned earlier, a rocked-up beastlier version of Sam Gopal’s original dark psych classic and also wherein Eriksson really cuts loose vocally and some screamin’ leads get busted out all over the place. Great stuff indeed.
Rounding off this infernal quartet of tunes is ‘Lucem Ferre’ itself, which is little more than a short guitar-led instrumental outro – a bloody GOOD one, but an instrumental outro nonetheless. Moody and plangent, the dark twang of unadorned guitar creates an exotic and foreboding air, preparing the listener for what is to come next.
As far as whetting our appetites for their forthcoming full-length, this EP is more than enough for any listener paying attention to decide whether said full-length will be a worthy purchase or not. Well, I’m happy to say that this listener is most definitely eagerly awaiting more music from these goat-worshipping heathens.
Bring on the goats, bring on the darkness, bring on the dark lord!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson