Goat The Head - Doppelgangers
Aftermath Music
Death Metal
10 songs (38:00)
Release year: 2010
Goat The Head, Aftermath Music
Reviewed by Charles
We’ve had trolls, we’ve had pirates, and in some godforsaken corner of the globe we’ve probably had ninjas. It seems some segments of the metal world are intent on turning this scene into a backslapping fancy dress party aimed at plastic cutlass-buying student goons. But as far as I know Goat the Head are the first metal band to adopt our humble ancestors (or dastardly myth created by godless scientists), Stone Age man as a theme. Oh, and astronauts. Yes, they have two themes. They seem to alternate between the two in promo shots. And why not?

The band already seems to have caused ripples a few years back by releasing a funny, if perplexingly music-free, promo video that got nominated for an award at that provincial rag, Metal Hammer magazine (go see it for yourselves). Well, in a sure sign that their career has rocketed since then, they’ve now made it to the virtual pages of the world’s greatest metal webzine. Stony-faced fun-crusher that I am, a sniff of costumed gimmickry sends me reeling, but everybody deserves a fair go. The band themselves refer to their music as “Contemporary Primal Caveman Death Metal”. On one level this seems to encapsulate nothing more than the fact that they have different outfits and call their songs things like Neolithic Rocket Science. But get into the album and it becomes apparent that it’s not just a visual and rhetorical duality that Goat the Head is aiming for.

It all begins simply enough. The aforementioned opening track is a pretty straighforward Scandinavian death metal onslaught. The vocals are deep and guttural. The riffing is crisp and thrashily fast, excepting the moments it breaks down into crunching Soulfly grooves. This drill continues through the second tune, leading you to expect a largely uneventful half hour’s listening. 1:21 into This Tube is Gospel, though, this muddy, prehistoric (by which I mean 90s death metal) scene is abruptly and unexpectedly modernised by a swooping female vocal melody that could almost have glided gracefully in from the swish soul-pop band recording in the next room. Against the odds it converts this rough and ready slugathon into something shimmeringly tuneful, especially after the further additions of “ooooh”-ing synthed choral voices; the harsh male vocals themselves resurface underneath, forming a wonderfully twisted set of nicely interlocking backing vocals. From this point on, the album isn’t really the same again. Death metal never comes close to giving up centre stage, but the tone has become slightly more unpredictable. Reveille is a treat; based around a tortured, braying guitar riff; but instead of a more standard pit-orientated breakdown, the song is augmented by the brief but illuminating appearance of a twinkling synth-pop backdrop.

I don’t mean to overstate the strangeness of this album. It is, for the most part, straight up death metal, played fairly well with some moments of blistering intensity. It’s just that it has a few bells and whistles attached. The title of the closing tune, Primal Caveman Death Metal, seems like something of a manifesto, and so it epitomises the best elements of this album. The harsh vocals inexplicably manage a crooning quality, and some noisy psychedelic elements are drawn in around the edges to add character to catchy Gothenburg riffing without ever derailing the latter’s pace or prominence. That’s the thing, ultimately. At this stage a lot of the experimentation seems a bit like tinkering on the sidelines. I think if Goat the Head were to develop and prioritise its more surprising fusion elements, we’d have a really special album on our hands.

Killing Songs :
Primal Caveman Death Metal, This Tube is Gospel, Reveille
Charles quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Goat The Head that we have reviewed:
Goat The Head - Simian Supremacy reviewed by Ross and quoted 75 / 100
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