It’s a rare sight indeed to see the combination of black metal and stoner riffs. Stoner ideas have gotten into just about everything else, but it so very, VERY rarely enters the realm of the overwhelming darkness of black metal. The biggest example that comes to mind is Cough, but even they don’t do what the UK’s Goblinsmoker does. In the ultimate stoner move, Goblinsmoker combines stoner riffs and fantasy topics with blackened edges in the Toad King EP that will leave you demanding more content.
Goblinsmoker originated as the one-man project of Adam Kennedy. Kennedy eventually asked his friend Calum Young to play drums on the album. Prior to Young’s joining, Kennedy spent a lot of time developing a mythology for his band which has been established on this EP. The story is about the Toad King, the discontented leader of the forest goblins and ruler of their home. In this realm, the goblins are completely loyal to their king and sacrifice themselves so that they can be smoked by their king and please him in death. A very metal fantasy story, I’d say.
What drives it all home for me is their sound combined with the lore. Kennedy and Young create a very sludgy version of blackened stoner doom. A lot of words to describe it, to be sure, but it’s accurate. They’re very riffy and fuzzy. Even they claim to that in their Bandcamp bio: “After a weekend of countless fuzz pedal combinations and too much time spent listening to toad samples, the first installment of the story was complete.” This record absolutely drips with the fuzz. It’s all over everything. Top that all off with some screechy blackened vocals from Kennedy and you’ve got quite the dour scene.
The scene is set with the intro track “Toad King”. Swirling atmospheric sounds introduce excessively fuzzy guitars playing a chord progression with tortoise-like slowness. Then WHAM: more guitars layered on top with aggressively crashing symbols. For seasoned vets of stoner doom, you may think you have heard this before but I assure you that you have not heard it quite like this. It may seem like a standard stoner idea but there’s an evil haze swirling over the entire song that’s difficult to specify exactly what’s causing it. Once Kennedy’s distorted blackened shouts come in, you know exactly what you’re in for. That’s essentially the proceeding 24 minutes of this record. It’s stoner evil.
I think a lot of us Heavy Bloggers are pretty big into bands doing something unique. A lot of reviews pass through this website of bands doing this kind of sound or with that kind of band, and it’s cool because we all have our personal tastes. But what’s most exciting is when there is a truly unique and original tone. Goblinsmoker is most assuredly that. Not a whole lot of bands are trying their hands at the truly original. This is the kind of band we should encourage. Partially due to their original sound, but also because I want to know what else the Toad King does. Does he make the goblins into other drugs? Where’s this forest? There’s gotta be a good battle, right? Let’s hope Kennedy and Young have some more ideas up their sleeves.
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Goblinsmoker’s Toad King is released today, Friday the 14th. You can head on over to the Bandcamp link to get your smoke filled adventure started.