Metal should elicit plenty of reactions but one of the best ones for it to aim for is discomfort. Music which leaves you comfortable is fine and has its place, but sometimes you just want that faint unease that comes with weird combinations and something which doesn’t quite fit the box you’ve prepared for it. This is especially desirable for young, unsigned bands. There’s no better way to catch the community’s attention than by doing something different. Ask Moon Tooth; their unique vocal and compositional style made sure that everyone paid close attention to their album, eyebrows twisting in an attempt to decipher exactly what they were listening to.
Oddly enough, the vocals are what adds that special little twist to King Goat as well, another unsigned band that has suddenly appeared. This intriguing similarity to Moon Tooth can be heard right off the bat. Opening track “Flight of the Deviants” makes you want to catalog King Goat under “Clutch and Clutch-assorted” bands but the vocals won’t let you. They’re more akin to Soundgarden and, weirdly enough, at points to Russell Allen. They soar but with a thick, massive timbre, eschewing screeches for full-bodied, echoing chants. And by goat, it works. With their help, their track is uplifted from just another stoner/doom creation, riding on the waves of Sleep nostalgia into something which unsettles you.
Perhaps the best band to reference when speaking of King Goat would be HARK. The same progressive approach to stoner/doom lives here, as can be heard near the middle of the opening track. Feeding off of the interest created by the unique vocals, the album continues to exploit odd time signatures, bizarre riff progressions and an overall feeling that we’re just next to stoner/doom but not quite there. Which is not to say that this album doesn’t know how to be heavy and feedback-rich; just give “Conduit” a listen and you’ll see that’s far from the case. It opens with a massive riff that’s all guts and no finesse, kicking down the door with ringing cymbals to keep it company. The vocals which follow this entrance are guttural and deep as doom would require, blending will into the ominous middle passage of the track.
But listen closely for what happens once that passage is done. The main riff is iterated open but instead of accompanying it with visceral vocals like a standard doom band would do, King Goat simply turn up the epic vocals to eleven. Sure, that guttural crescendo will come soon enough, but for now a female choir backs up the lead singer. How’s that for buildup? So, when the expected thundering outro finally do arrives, it’s that much more powerful for being contrasted with the clearer sounds we had just heard. This does well to explain the joy of dissonance: what seemed out of place now makes sense and serves to paint well known passages in a new light.
King Goat have basically managed to inject new energy and dynamic into the tired stoner/doom formula. Much like HARK before them, they’ve found a new way in which the pieces of the musical puzzle fit. The fact that they’re unsigned and relatively new makes perfect sense. Innovation lies in the periphery, where the need to outperform the competition is all. It’ll be interesting to watch them from now on, to see exactly what they’ll do with the new exposure and upcoming music. Will they deepen their unique take on the genre, turn to more conservative avenues or throw us another curveball? One can only hope for the latter, since King Goat at their best when keeping us uncomfortable and on the edge of our seats.
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