Review: Night Goat ‘Burning Bridges To Light The Way’

‘Is Sad Reverb Doom a sub-genre?’ This is the kind of self-deprecation that grabs my attention, and it’s written all over Night Goat. Here’s a band whose name sounds like it came from an online random doom band name generator: musicians whose former band, and whose ‘non-label’ record label, are named after pocket fluff. Pain, grief, loss, lashings of occult and pagan imagery, and… Romanes Eunt Domus. (Do I have to explain that one?)

Night Goat ‘Burning Bridges To Light The Way’

The band’s earlier recordings address the ancient paradox upon which Aristotle ruminated: The Chicken EP and The Egg EP, released simultaneously. EP number three, Burning Bridges To Light The Way, continues Night Goat’s contribution to the philosophical canon. The cover art features ruin, apocalypse, cities aflame, and a very cute little goat.

I don’t want to overplay the absurdity, however, because a lot of what they do is serious, and it’s seriously good. Not revolutionary, but good. You’ve probably heard a number of bands treading a similar path to Night Goat – gloomy doom, using the evocative combination of female vocals and slow guitars. Night Goat do it a little different to most, and better than many.

In most genres, there tends to be a feeling of directness and simplicity with a three-piece, and this one leans even more towards sparseness, consisting of only a guitar (Brad), vocals (Kat), and drums (David).

gloomy doom, using the evocative combination of female vocals and slow guitars. Night Goat do it a little different to most, and better than many…

It’s not rough or raw by any means – despite the recording/production being credited as ‘Captured, Cut and Set Free’ – just not overburdened, nothing unnecessary. The emotional impact comes from clever dynamics. Drums and guitar work as a unit, ebbing and flowing together, the kick drum sometimes mirroring the riff precisely. They’re subtle and restrained for the most part, but leap into bombast when the time is right, and always leave space for the vocals. The vocals themselves are a vital element, and might feel like an afterthought without the trio’s canny interplay. Kat gets the freedom to use a range of vocal qualities in service of the song, without needing to use a harsh grrrl/grunge style or a guttural growl just to be heard.

Each of the four tunes on offer covers similar territory. As much as I hate to use the word formula, there is one, and I like it. A sparse guitar line begins proceedings, soon to be joined by drums and/or vocals. The drums at the start of each tune are subdued, ranging from non-existent to understated groove. The vocals begin each song in a gentle fashion, most effectively in The Last Human Sound… with a breathy near-whisper that puts me in mind of Beth Gibbons.

As the tension builds, the drums start to assert themselves, the guitar gets thicker, and the vocals often head for a lower register. The raunchy riff kicks in, and the vocals step back for a while. Sometimes vocals and guitar alternate in a brief call-and-response passage, as in Negative Crepe. At other times, the vocals surf over a fat riff, adding a harmonic layer. Opener, Simulacra, however delivers a surprise when the big rock riff kicks in, with a gravelly male growl contrasting with the female voice.

Each song is cleverly crafted and patiently executed. Every element has a part to play, all working for the good of the song, and in pursuit of atmosphere. Noice (that’s ‘nice’ to you none Australian’s).

Label: Lint Music
Band Links: Facebook

Scribed by: Rob Bryant