King Goat – Debt of Aeons (Aural Music, 20 April 2018)
Wolf King – Loyal to the Soil (Prosthetic Records, 27 April 2018)
Today we have two albums to present to you, by two different bands. Two VERY different bands in fact; pretty much the only thing they have in common is the word “King” along with some kind of animal in their names. Also the fact that they each released a new album last month. Plus the fact that we deemed each of these albums good enough to write about and share with you.
But besides that, very dissimilar. Having said that, though — if you came here as a fan of one of these bands, why not step out of your comfort zone a bit and give the other a quick spin? You may be pleasantly surprised!
Brightonian doomlords King Goat unveiled their sophomore LP Debt of Aeons just over three weeks ago. With seven tracks mostly ranging between seven to ten minutes, the album starts off fairly dreary and downtrodden, built upon intricate minor-key melodies — firmly entrenched in the same league as folks like Pilgrim. Not content to simply use twin guitar parts in unison or harmonized, often the arrangements will use a cleaner (more melodic) lead part that’s further augmented with two or more overdriven rhythm parts underneath.
The jewel atop this crown is the vocals: while not quite to the extent of a Dantesco, for example, the singing might be described as “semi-operatic” — often slipping from a deeper, resonant bellow, into a strong, vibrato tenor; a wide-ranged array similar to that employed by Cave of Swimmers (a personal favorite of this reviewer).
Building from its gloomy commencement, the album reaches several high points where the vocals and guitars simultaneously hit a crescendo; for example, just past midway through “Eremite’s Rest.” Then, during the record’s second half, one of the outliers of the track-length range previously mentioned (a mellow, melancholy four-minute interlude) leads the band to take a much more vicious, wicked-sounding turn — especially vocally. After that, a less-than-one-minute introductory track leads back to the earlier operatic style, for the final track to close things out in a stoic, grand, and rather imposing manner.
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Based in an area commonly associated with the genesis of thrash metal, California’s Wolf King show a range of other influences, while at the same time remaining ‘true to their local roots’ (pun fully intended) on debut album Loyal to the Soil. These eleven songs (averaging somewhere around four minutes) are stuffed full of crusty/thrashy/trashy hardcore-influenced metal — angry to the core, albeit with some doomy overtones.
For the most part, the material here is characterized by intense, throat-shredding vocals, frequently doubled by hugely gutteral roars and howls. From time to time the full band (including the vocals) falls into a sort of unison syncopation, throwing all of their collective aggression together as one, to pound upon the listener’s eardrums as with a meat tenderizer. Which is surprisingly not an unpleasant feeling.
Although the band is only credited with four members (one vocalist, one guitarist, one bassist, and one drummer), something peculiar happens when all of these are layered together: in between all the harshness and griminess, some sort of phantom tones seem to emerge, giving the music a bit of a doom metal vibe, even to the point where it sounds like there is an old distorted organ groaning somewhere in the mix. Surely it’s just a mirage, but maybe on some level these bands aren’t so different after all?
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