Having originally been self released earlier in the year, Hells Headbangers has picked up this collection of recordings known as the Yellowgoat Sessions for wider distribution. Joel Grind will be familiar to most for his work with Toxic Holocaust (a band which once was his solo project, but in recent years morphed into a fully fledged band with a complete line up). Indeed, that is the main reason that this solo work has been released separately and not under the Toxic Holocaust banner, Joel just wanted to write some stuff to please himself and get it out to his loyal fans without sticking the Toxic Holocaust name or it or overthinking things in any other manner.
With his shock of bleached blonde hair and ever present kult metal t-shirts, this is exactly what you’d expect to have heard from a guy who worships Venom and Bathory’s first couple of albums, while adding in a kick of dirty, diesel soaked Motorhead for good measure. Even the name of the sessions ‘Yellowgoat’ is a direct ode to Bathory’s revered original yellow goat vinyl pressing of their debut album, which had a yellow goat, rather than the white goat which the re-pressings favoured. All this without mentioning the similarity in cover art being an amalgamation of both Venom & Bathory’s best known works too, the amount of band worshipping here isn’t hard to find wherever you look. At times the overall sound of the record isn’t super far sonically from what you’d expect to hear from a Toxic Holocaust album, fizzing with distortion and with grimy gnarled vocals. Although this is far from the thrashy sound of his main band, instead the pedal is pushed much more firmly into alcohol soaked fuzzed out rock & roll.
This is primitive, hard hitting and a full on tribute to all his main loves, and it’s a pretty decent retrospective of all that is old school in European extremeness. Tracks such as ‘The Eternal One’ take on a slightly eerier tone to the rest of the album, with throbbing feedback and slow building guitars bludgeoning underneath the super-distorted hissed vocals, whereas the next track ‘Hail to Cruelty’ sums up the album’s overall tone, clattering drums, raucous guitars and echoing harsh vocals – exactly the sort of speed metal meets black metal that Darkthrone enjoy kicking out in recent times. Imagine talking early 80s Sodom and Destruction members into to playing Bathory covers through Motorhead’s equipment, and you’ll have the best approximation of what you’ll find here.
With the intro and outro tracks being creepy atmospheric pieces, we’re only talking 8 full tracks here with a run time of just under 25 minutes in total for the full release. Thus, I suppose this is pretty short as modern albums go these days, but I was more than satisfied with the session’s immediate effect. If you’re a stickler for intense, old school riffage, cavernous vocals and a crusty, punkish vibe – this will get you snapping your neck in no time. Yellow goat worshippers unite!
(7.5/10 Lars Christiansen)