Goatcraft: All For Naught

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Goatcraft: All For Naught
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Goatcraft: All for Naught
Ambience, Neoclassical
Forbidden Records
March 20th, 2013
Release length:
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When Goatcraft first arrived, it was an interesting album that looked like an early underground Black Metal recording thanks largely to the artwork. However, this is simply not the case. All for Naught, the debut album from the Texas based Dark Ambient/Neoclassical one-piece Goatcraft, is a grim, often Gothic-esque instrumental soundtrack from the days of silent black and white Horror that is composed of pianos and various ambient effects. But, does this album have what it takes to truly reach the niche audience it’s aimed at, as well as expand onto the unsuspecting masses?

While this isn’t the Black Metal album the artwork may suggest, it carries plenty of the atmospheric traits, environments, and emotional manipulation that will have fans of the style in absolute awe right from the start. This is enhanced due to the slightly rawer quality that accentuates the traditional piano output of the keyboards. Of course, it sounds rather crisp either way, but also has a slight echo to them that gives it a haunting touch of frost against often grainy ambient effects that can hit almost at random, but are often short and still suit the tone of the performance without being abused.

As far as track lengths go, this album ends up all over the place, but only a few pushing past six minutes. “Call Me Judas” starts things off with some Ambient effects, eventually easing into the pianos while cracks of thunder, or the equivilent of, crash in the background. The focus soon shifts solely to the instrument, weaving a black and white Dracula-esque world, laced with tighter, faster notes among simpler, slower passages that are as beautiful as they are grim. The slower “Infinite Death” clocks in at nearly eight minutes, offering a performance that will chill the listener to the core with beautiful faster chords that are met with slower, yet booming passages that add an element of tension to the mix that play off the ambient wind effects whipping distance and foreground quite well. Finally, there’s “Isolation Ripens,” which actually sounds more like a performance about love, but in a depressing manner, as if the soundtrack to an internal struggle. The quicker sections are quite limited here, relying largely on slower, booming notes and subtle bridges with lighter keys being struck, allowing the song to dance between the light and the dark in a very fluid manner that can still play on your emotions despite not being as atmospheric as the other two.

While the longer tracks do show off a great deal of talent without becoming drawn out or padded, sometimes the shorter ones can stand out more. “Goats Will Riot” has more of a playful vibe in the faster areas, but the deeper notes still present a dark tone. The atmospheres end up so strong that you can picture a remorseful scene from a silent black and white film in your mind automatically. Even the just under two minute long “Laconism of the Cosmos” stands out with a frantic atmosphere, playing on your nerves with great tension to get the point of panic across before it lets go suddenly, fading out nicely to brace you for a song that might offer closure. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen and you are met with “Gate II,” a very brief Ambient piece that, like “Gate I,” simply doesn’t need to exist. In fact, this interrupts the flow horribly, considering “Everything Will Die” honestly sounds like that follow-up “Laconism of the Cosmos” builds up to, giving off the aura a dark and grieving final conflict that brings closure to the previous tension.

Sadly, for as beautiful and memorable as All for Naught truly is, this album has plenty of problems that simply cannot be ignored. First off, “Gate I” and “Gate II” seem to serve no purpose other than getting in the way. Even “Journey to the Depths” doesn’t really feel at home on this release. While not padding, it doesn’t really go anywhere, nor does it really offer any genuine emotion. But these are minor gripes, as the biggest is that many of the songs seem to just stop abruptly, or fade out way too quick. Sadly, it happens more times than it should, and many of these beautiful pieces, such as “Isolation Ripens,” simply don’t deserve to end like that. Sitting down to a beautiful, emotional piece for upwards of six or seven minutes, you expect a somewhat grand or fitting conclusion, another aspect that never really seems to hit. Even something as simple as a brief quicker passage, silence, and then one held deeper note that fades away on its own would help end many of these songs on a better note. Even just a slow, overdrawn fade out instead of the maybe two second long studio effect used. The biggest offender is “The Rape of Europa,” which sounds ripe to bleed into “Consciousness is a Disease,” but instead just cuts off with no warning, and you’re greeted with a very random Ambient effect to start the final performance with. Sadly all of these issues really do hurt the album, and it’s heartwrenching that they even exist in the first place.

While All for Naught truly is a unique and beautiful offering, it just seems to have too much wrong with it that holds it back from being a Neoclassical masterpiece. From poor transitions in and out of performances, bad track placement, and Ambient pieces that are too short to be effective, this moving composition ends up starting off strong, but gradually hits you with constant turbulance that pulls you out of the world it creates. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking the time to experience. Goatcraft has put together a truly inspiring album full of promise that has the potential to bleed into more than just the certain underground and niche markets, as well as hopefully influence more musicians to weave such beautiful and dark compositions. If you love moving Classical or Neoclassical pieces, All for Naught is an album well worth grabbing despite its faults, as Goatcraft is a band that is destined to make plenty of waves in the Metal genre, and outside of it.

01. Call Me Judas – 6:15
02. Infinite Death – 7:40
03. Journey to the Depths – 1:40
04. Goats Will Riot – 3:04
05. Gate I – 0:44
06. Isolation Ripens – 7:40
07. Vestibule to the Abyss – 5:15
08. Laconism of the Cosmos – 1:55
09. Gate II – 0:38
10. Everything Will Die – 3:21
11. The Rape of Europa – 1:55
12. Consciousness is a Disease – 5:31
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Goatcraft (band)
Goatcraft

Digital review copy of this release provided by Forbidden Records via Clawhammer PR.