Since 2012 and the departure of Robert Lowe, Candlemass have only released a single EP, albeit rumours abound of new work linked to some game or the other; well, what does that have to do with new release by Brighton’s own King Goat, ‘Debt of Aeons’, you may rightly ask? Put simply, whilst those Swedish titans have been slowly working towards new material and leaving their legions of fans, this old hippy included, hanging in anticipation, numerous young upstart bands have been stepping forward to fill the void of epic Prog laden doom left by their absence, and King Goat is very much one of those acts.
‘Rapture’ starts the album in fine form, and the pervasive presence of King Goat’s aforementioned forebears is obvious from the very start. Trim’s vocals are strong, clear, and near operatic, the lead guitar work of Petros is precise and sustained, whilst the rhythm generated by Joe, Reza and Jon is slow, complex and clearly the work of musicians who are developing their sound. Compared to the somewhat rough and ready texture of 2014’s ‘Atom’ they have clearly come on leaps and bounds (I know from a quick check that in 2016 they released ‘Conduit’, but with all the music that I get bombarded with that one had flown under my radar until now). All that’s really missing for the full works is some swirling keyboards, but with all that comes across in the music, that’s not an essential to enjoy what this quintet produces. ‘Eremite’s Rest’ follows solidly on, the vocals becoming even more massive, challenging the instrumentalists to step up to the mark, and this they do in fine style complete with a mix of a leaden near breakdown, and solos that are by turns light and delicate and flashy shows of technical excellence; this is a real ‘lighters in the air’ track, a term that probably means little to the modern mobile phone generation. This same massive sound develops even further on title track ‘Debt of Aeons’ with the band practically challenging all comers for the currently vacated throne of European doom with feet planted solidly on the monitors at the front of the stage.
Giving the listener a brief respite from all things epic is the initially gentle then ever more haunting and disturbing interlude of ‘Psycasthenia’ (a psychological disorder, and yes I had to check the dictionary) which sounds as if it could have been an intermission from an early Pink Floyd album, all things heavy resuming with ‘Doldrum Sentinels’ where the band show off their creative chops with numerous skilfully executed time changes, whilst the vocals take on a harsher guttural roar that will doubtless satisfy those who like their music a bit more brutal. The whole album is finally rounded off by the ten minute plus offering of ‘On Dusty Avenues’, a huge, meandering journey into the greyer reaches of despair so dear to the bleak hearts of Doom fans everywhere, complete with angst ridden layered vocal harmonies and a slow descending outro designed to match the march of the damned.
That King Goat are able to create such an accomplished sound is a testament to the continuing development of the band as they hone their skills, and I have to say, those Swedes I alluded to earlier, they’ll really have to pull something special out of the bag soon to climb back to the top of the mountain with competition like this out in the world.