Review – Year of the Goat: The Unspeakable

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  • Bio: "...while recognizing that the 60’s and 70’s saw the birth of true genius within the performance of dark art, aim is to abolish time and make you see it for the illusion it is - sinister gospels with properly dank atmospheres can be created whenever and wherever." - Facebook
  • Label: Napalm Records
  • Release Date: July 31st, 2015
  • Genre: Doom Metal, Occult Rock, Progressive Rock
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Year of the Goat has returned with their latest effort, The Unspeakable, a follow-up to their 2012 debut album Angels’ Necropolis. The Swedish six-piece find themselves working with Napalm Records to blend the lines between Progressive Rock, Doom Metal, and the occult on this new release, which has earned a good deal of praise by critics. Since their formation, the band has gained a strong following for their hazy melodies of all that goes on in the dark, and those in the know have been anxiously awaiting this new creation. But does The Unspeakable live up to the hype, or does it end up falling flat on its face?

Well, there’s plenty of variety to be found throughout The Unspeakable, a good amount well worth taking note of. For the most part, this effort seems to have a stronger Progressive Rock influence to it, as well as crisp production typical for that style. Things start with the colder, whisper filled “All He Has Read”, changing gears to infectious ritualistic passages and melancholic hooks with background elements like the ringing of a church bell. The procession continues on in the freezing rain, building expectations of an epic performance, something those astute enough to notice the thirteen minute track length would automatically assume. What follows mixes together a hint of grander riffs on par with early Tyr in a Black Sabbath crossed with Ours world, though some Candlemass-like traits are exhibited from time to time. But it isn’t until the pace slows by the nine minute mark that the song really starts to stand out, reaching out into a haziness that warms the air a little more until the intimate softer guitar chords prior to diving back into the slightly more technical guitar melodies of the chorus.

While not quite as epic, “The Sermon” shows traces of that aforementioned heavy metal touch in the vein of a lighter Mercyful Fate influence in the chorus laced with Jess ans The Ancient Ones-like musical prowess sans the female vocals. It’s an engaging piece that is as enchanting as “Pillars of the South” is laid back. That one has a little more of an occult rock vibe to it all around though, accented with church organ keyboards at times, such as the muffled presence around three minutes in, some clean singing in the background, as well as a subtle ritualistic worship to the catchy riffs that could only have more impact had the album been handled in an all analog manner. The haziness that would normally come with that, however, is still present. It’s a near polar opposite to “The Emma”, which is an odd mixture of astral rock concepts blended with Queen styled musical progression, slight eccentricities, as well as background vocals. The higher pitched singing is also a nice touch, taking on a bit of an operatic falsetto approach that compliments the atmosphere very well.

But, sadly, there’s a decent amount of songs that don’t really maintain all that unique a presence, such as “World of Wonders”. While a solid, brooding track all around, it just sounds like something torn straight off an Ours album with a bit of occult influence to the main verses, lyrics and conclusion. And then there’s “The Wind”, which is essentially a Danzig track if covered by H.I.M.. Again, it’s catchy and well executed, but far from anything too memorable given the darkness of the prior legendary group is sorely missing, even in the chorus where it does try to bottle some of that magic for resale. Thankfully “Rides of Vultures” does kind of save the remainder of the album, throwing a little more doom metal into the mix, especially by the half way point. This grossly dark track exemplifies a lot of the general lyrical themes and atmospheric undertones appear throughout this album, as well as their previous effort, and it’s a welcome change in the right direction, breeding a depressing, yet incredibly intimate and personal performance that will stick with the listener for quite a while.

Year of the Goat

But, for as catchy as The Unspeakable is, it just seems like a kind of Frankenstein’s monster of the progressive world. There are a number of comparisons that can be made, sometimes treading into the realm of carbon copying or hero worship. It’s unclear if intentional or not, but the aforementioned similarities do become hard to ignore, especially the many aspects that left me wanting to listen to the first two Ours albums again instead of this one, which isn’t at all the desired outcome. Yes, in this day and age it’s hard to not sound like one established band or another, but it’s also painfully disheartening to hear three solid performances suddenly shift to generic progressive rock cuts that rely largely on the emotional vocal range Thomas Sabbathi possesses to leave any sort of lasting mark with the listener.

While The Unspeakable is far from a bad album, it’s also one that ends up a myriad of lower quality tracks compared to the obvious talent on display immediately after hitting the start button for the first time. Hopefully Year of the Goat continues to grow and lob more songs like the powerhouse “All He Has Read”, or even the doom metal heavy “Riders of Vultures” in the future, and less that sound more like mainstream primer. If they’re able to this, there would be no stopping this band.

Year of the Goat

Digital review copy of this release provided by Napalm Records via Freeman Promotions.