The Year Of The Goat: The Unspeakable

Lucifer-loving Swedes cast their sonic net wide

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When half of Year Of The Goat were paying their dues in respected Swedish doom metal band Griftegård circa 2009, they played in support to The Devil’s Blood just as that extraordinary duo were blossoming into full radical cult mystique, carving weird new shapes into dark ancient rock.

You can feel the impact of Farida and Selim’s innovations throughout The Unspeakable, but crucially the lessons learned are ones of freedom and audacity rather than any specific slavish musical details.

The Devil’s Blood had barely begun to flow when their mission was so tragically and prematurely terminated, and there is space for a good enough band with their own attitudes and perspectives to reach for the gleaming ideals glimpsed within The Thousandfold Epicentre. Year Of The Goat’s declaration that their “aim is to abolish time” is a good start.

And they kind of succeed. The retro-occult rock scene’s studious replication of 40-year-old riffs, threads and smells is replaced with a more imaginative and liberated musical time-scoop approach, where after 10 minutes of epic prog the album’s compelling opener All He Has Read is pierced by a riff straight off a mid-80s thrash demo – and where a gothic doom intro leads into a lighter-waving ballad chorus via Weimar cabaret verses and a synth solo straight off an early Magnum album, as appears to happen during The Emma. Then there’s the galloping, folk-rock guitar harmonies of Vermin, attaining a plateau of delirious AOR drivetime pomp right after the cowbell kicks in. Elsewhere there are bits of shoegaze, garage psych, musical theatre, NWOBHM, krautrock and goth, shot through with pop-savvy shades of Queen and ABBA and steeped in opaque lyrical occultism.

It’s a heady, multi-layered blend, and in the hands of less sincere and inspired musicians it might have been a scattershot hodgepodge, a malfunctioning party shuffle. But there is a growing sophistication about YOG’s songwriting, if not necessarily elegance; some of the structures are a little ungainly and lurid, connections aren’t always made smoothly, but the band’s lack of guile and restless creative enthusiasm help make The Unspeakable an entertainingly immersive experience.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.