Review: Goats of Doom – Rukous
An unsung workhorse of a label meets a hardworking band on a trajectory. In the distance a hairy figure looms, judging.
Keeping true to themselves, Goats of Doom are releasing their fourth full-length only a ripe year after the previous one. After debuting with 2011’s Deathcult ov Doomgoat -split, only two years have passed without new music. As is wont, not everything they’ve put out is great but said split is a very promising starting point. It’s vivacious riffs and melodic understanding immediately put them apart from many of their peers, while the carefully used keyboards, acoustic segments and oriental vibes that were used to spice up an occasion or two, gave it a more colourful facade and wider pen to play in.
While the debut full-length, Lost In Time and Void, followed largely the same map it seemed to have lost some of the riffs’ earlier intricacy and featured more prominent guitar leads as well as keyboard lines, refusing now to merely “add to the atmosphere”. This was also the first time clean vocals appeared in GoD’s music and while their placing seemed thought out and they were far from abundant, their use seemed somewhat haphazard and awkward. In 2014, Ashes of The Past ep seemed to continue treading upon the path that LiTaV had set upon, each small change taken further. And in the process it appeared as if what once had been presence of greatness and a promise of coming deeds, had turned into well made and enjoyable concoction of most ordinary kind, with only a hint, an aftertaste that reflected upon primus motor, Scaregod’s, vision, not quite attained.
Sophomore full-length, Intra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, on the other hand, seemed to have led GoD’s path straight into a bog. A desperately bloated effort at almost an hour’s length, where still rather minimal, but more prominent than ever, keyboard lines scuttle amidst riffs less-than-vivid riffs. It’s not an album without it’s moments, but even at it’s best it’s a pale, cliche-ridden attempt of a pastiche of b-grade 90’s meloblack. It’s an album with which I would have ended any and each attempt to further get into GoD, had I not already known there was better to come.
You see, even though I was quick to dive into their history, I did not become familiar with the band until last year’s Alla Kirkkaimman Tähden. And the reason is simple. Goats of Doom is a terrible band name. Utterly, devastatingly, abhorrently terrible band name. It’d be a terrible name for the hit-tier garage stoner band that it sounds like it belongs to. But slowly, I began to feel adjured to give it a try, as the band kept appearing in my newsfeed, and many of my friends and acquaintances sang their careful praise. Alla Kirkkaimman Tähden was no return to Deathcult ov Doomgoat, which at the time I wouldn’t have been able to tell anyways, but it does feel like Scaregod finally uncovered that which he wished to craft upon.
The melodic effort was taken to new heights, though the keys had been stripped, making it GoD’s least heavy and most melancholic release. Facts underlined with an abundance of clean vocals that drummer Inasnum had finally made to work, on LiTaV they had been muddled, buried and slightly off-place and on IENS appearing like an out-of-range-and-breath impression of Timo Kotipelto (no, really). AKT on the other hand, made good use of them, both in abundance and quality. Even used in such quantities that they diverge attention from Alla Kirkkaimman Tähden’s plain and melancholic approach to what could be described as a quintessential black metal record.
It borders on inadvertent comedy that one should stumble so often, after so auspicious a start. Which is why it pleases me greatly that Rukous should continue the upward trajectory began on AKT. Despite having had this promo for a good while, and liking their previous record, I was hesitant to listen to Rukous. Be it the band’s name, their spotty history or the combination of title (“Prayer”) and cover art that failed to enthrall me. I first heard it going to a record store. Browsing through the albums, I found myself enjoying whatever it was that was playing, and mere minutes later left with the LP.
41 minutes of melodic, melancholic and mostly fast black metal. Unusual then that if it wasn’t for the stringent vocalization, there would not be much aggression on this album. While is Rukous does not altogether lack in gloom, it’s largely a lightweight effort with thin guitar sound that’s apt to portray the melodic front but won’t please someone looking for rawer power.
Rukous is the most consistent album from Goats of Doom to date, many of the songs find a new gear towards their end, making even the longer compositions more pleasant to play, while the re-introduced calm and acoustic segments offer respite for weary ears. The appearance of rare-in-black-metal guitar solos and clan vocals embroider the otherwise so bleak soundscape.
Here Inasnum’s cleans are used to a lesser extent than they were on Alla Kirkkaimman Tähden, which is all well, as they’ve taken a small step backwards. When sung in Finnish, like on “Tuhkasta Valettu”, or doubling growls, they work well enough. But especially when taken apart and sung in English, they falter, sounding awkward and wavering.
While there aren’t any significant stylistic changes between AKT and Rukous, I can hardly believe Goats of Doom’s earlier work wouldn’t have clashed if re-recorded and placed on that record, yet that is what they have done here. With “Riivaaja” all the way from Deathcult ov Doomgoat split, and I find it remarkable how well it fits. The riffs are somewhat more lively than on the other songs, but had I not known, I wouldn’t have been able to tell it wasn’t a song written for this release, that’s how well it fits in. Goats of Doom, despite their name and previous shortcomings, might be on the verge of something great here. Nomen non est omen.
3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell