Goat: mysterious masked magick mavens bewitch Brixton with filthily funky ritual

Pancultural psych-fusion Swedes serve up heady witch's brew at UK tour climax

(Image: © Alessandro Bosio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Centuries ago, a travelling witch doctor, finally weary of all that travelling, elected to set down roots in the tiny northern Swedish village of Korpilombolo. And here our story might have ended, had not pesky crusaders sought to impose the teaching of Christ Jesus upon the area, and set about slaughtering obstinate non-believers, as was the fashion of the time. Those who survived this murderous assault, it is said, placed an eternal curse upon the village, leading to successive generations raised in the townland being inhabited by dark spirits whose malevolent magick is habitually summoned by village elders in trance-like polyrhythmic head music.

Out of this cursed environment come Goat, a mysterious, masked, mutating collective pushing a transcendental musical mélange of porn-funk, psych-metal, Krautrock, Afrobeats and demonic disco doom. And tonight, they are in South London to wreak havoc and harvest souls. Which is nice.

At this point, dear reader, we request that one refrain from delving too deeply into the veracity of this twisted tale for, perhaps - and who really knows, really? - it might be utter bollocks. But here's an undeniable truth: a night in the company of these seductive, spell-blinding Swedes is the most fun you can possibly have while clothed.

"Soon you'll die. But don't you cry. 'Cause you still got time to go party." As an opening track, both live and on last year's fabulous Oh Death album, Soon You Die is the perfect mission statement to commence a conjuring of chaos. And over the course of the ensuing 75-80 minutes, 1,500 patrons inside the sold-out Electric Brixton party hard, captivated by music that would make dead men dance.

With twin high priestess vocalists leading the ritual, and not a hint of showbiz 'banter' interrupting the immersive feel-good acid trip vibe, Goat roll out a mystical carpet ride, undulating from the scuzzy, flute-assisted, X-rated psych-funk of Fill My Mouth ("Going south, I really need something inside my mouth") to the shamanic, Sympathy For The Devil-style hypno-jazz of Time For Fun ("Bring all your friends. Look at the sun. No time for trouble. It's time for fun...") to the Thin Lizzy-style twin guitar rave-up Blow The Horns.

Goatman, the band's debut single, sounds as weird, wired and wondrous as it did upon its release in 2012, and set closer Let It Burn, a stand-alone 2018 single first heard on the soundtrack to Killing Gävle, a short film about an epic battle to protect/destroy a 40-foot tall straw goat effigy in a northern Swedish city, is all rolling, ominous Black Sabbath grooves, wah-wah guitar filth and innards-rearranging percussion. Lovely, lovely stuff. 

The evening climaxes in spectacular fashion with the wild Fela Kuti-meets-Funkadelic-meets-Amon Düül II prog-psych sprawl of Goathead melting into the bhangra-style beats, space-metal guitar torrents and teasing/taunting vocals of Run To Your Mama, which builds and builds in intensity to a fabulously frenzied orgiastic freakout climax. Are there better ways to spend a Saturday night on this diseased and dying planet? The ancient spirits of Korpilombolo say 'No', and only a fool or a Christian kill-joy would argue. 

GOAT set-list Brixton Electric London, April 22, 2023

(Image credit: GOAT)
Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.