Ah yes, a progressive stoner/doom review! This means that there’s a formula this intro paragraph takes: first, we tell you all about how progressive stoner/doom has seen a huge proliferation of releases in the past few years. Then, we ironically make the point that the main issue with the genre is repetition (ironic seeing as how these reviews tend to touch on the same point). Then, we either regretfully inform you that this is the case here or that a certain band has managed to break away from the mold. It’s usually the latter, since we like to review releases we like (shocking, we know). Now that that’s out of the way, can we please get to the amazing album that is King Goat‘s Debt of Aeons?
The reason we chose such a meta filled opening for this review is that Debt of Aeons seems very self-aware. It seems as if King Goat are no less aware than us of the formula stifling their sub-genre and, after a promising debut release in 2016, aren’t going to follow it too closely. Debt of Aeons is neatly divided into two parts; the first three tracks are a more ponder-some and old-school take on the King Goat sound. The impressive vocals which were the centerpiece on the previous release are back, better than ever. They enjoy pride of place in the mix and their execution is even better than on the debut, all operatic grandeur and over the top epicness. The instruments’ complexity has been dialed back for these opening tracks, foregoing some of the progressive influences that made them more varied on the previous album.
This is a good thing however. It allows the uniqueness of the band to shine. Make no mistake: the instruments are far from boring. They are convincing and pleasing, steeped in great tone and composition. They’re simply not the focus of the first part of the album. Take the opening track “Rapture” for example; the riffs are slow and direct, hitting alongside the drum beat for great effect. The solos are bright and technically pleasing without going over the top. Everything is good, just not the focus. The focus is, instead, the incredible vocal delivery, soaring over the rest of the sound. Again and again, they turn passages from good to great and carry the track home in the best of ways. Near the end, they even take on an abrasive quality that turns the whole track into a more sinister thing.
After the fourth track, “Psychasthenia”, a short interlude, we find the second part of the album. This is made up of two main songs, “Doldrum Sentinels” and “On Dusty Avenues”, joined by another very brief interlude. Here, things shift closer to the debut album, with a lot more variety and complexity added to the instruments. This is a really clever approach since it allows both sounds to have their day in the sun and remain fresh. The beginning’s heavy repetition plays itself out and is immediately followed by more varied works, making sure our fatigue is dispelled. The closing track, “On Dusty Avenues”, especially benefits from it; it’s easy to see how, among other long and complex tracks, it might have lost much of its impact. Instead, its groovy and intricate structure hits home perfectly, ending the album as fresh as it started.
And that’s maybe the most impressive about this release. In a genre known for overstaying its welcome and taking too long to get to the point, King Goat have managed to create a slim album. Not for lack of run-time either, as Debt of Aeons clocks in at nearly an hour. But because of the clever album structure, the variety in approach to the sound, the excellent vocal delivery and the dedication to interesting instrumentals, the album runs like a sleek vessel. You end up as you started; excited to hear more, even though you just got more than a plate’s worth. For this reason more than any other does Debt of Aeonssolidify King Goat as a name to watch in the overcrowded skies of stoner/doom metal. They’re going to shine bright.
King Goat’s Debt of Aeons releases on April 20th. You’d do yourself a favor by going to their Bandcamp, linked above, and snagging yourself a copy. Stay doom.