Goatlord - Reflections of the Solstice - (8.5/10)
Published on May 12, 2015
Often heralded as the first band in the business to play doom/death metal, Goatlord is a legendary band from Las Vegas that formed in 1985. The band released a series of demos between 1987 and 1991, with 1988’s Sodomize the Goat often heralded as a landmark release in certain circles. Reflections of the Solstice, Goatlord’s debut full length album, which was initially released on Turbo Music in 1991, has seen more than it’s fair share of reissues. The first reissue, by JL America, brought a different mix, with a punchier sound that was still incredibly murky and dense. In 2007, the folks at Nuclear War Now! Productions reissued the album on CD and vinyl, and in 2015 they returned with another vinyl reissue (both versions following the JL America Mix).
Reflections of the Solstice plays like a crawling, writhing mass of pummeling doom death. The production is incredibly murky, sporting a tremendously heavy low end. While the band never completely abandoned the speedy segments of blackened metal, like the jackhammer riffing in the middle of “Underground Church”, but, honestly, the majority of this album moves along at a snail’s pace, like the chunky plodding on “Acid Orgy”. The guitar riffs surge forth with tons of reverb-drenched palm muting while the simplistic drum patterns clatter away, with quite ridiculous electronic tom sounds and extremely loud ride that are strangely fitting after repeated listens. Everything on Reflections of the Solstice sounds ancient, blasphemous and as hard as a brick wall.
Despite the short bursts of frenetic blackened metal, the music is relatively simple and straight forward. Perhaps what pushes Goatlord’s sound forward so hard are the vicious snarls of front man Ace Still (who also fronted Doom Snake Cult). The vocals are dripping with malicious anger, consisting mostly of snarling, scraping shouts; something that seemed to highly influence the likes of Gravewürm. The murky, almost cavernous sound allows the extremely bass heavy sound to resonant freely, congealing with the often rollicking percussion into an amalgamation of doom and death metal with plenty of occult black metal touches. Hell, there’s even what sounds like a mass of swirling wind clouding the background of “The Fog”.
Taking the template of doom metal and adding dredging death metal and tinges of occult black metal, Goatlord proceeded to create a sound that has been emulated countless times over the years. Sadly, the band isn’t mentioned as frequently as should be, but perhaps continued reissues can continue to spread the word. An interesting tidbit, Mitch Harris (of Napalm Death fame) is rumored to have contributed lead vocals for the album because vocalist Ace Still reportedly left the band for a time. Still managed to return and record the vocals for the album: Harris’ vocals only appear in a few places on the album, serving as backing lines. Fans of unholy blackened metal should look no further, as Goatlord are among the founding fathers. Reflections of the Solstice has aged markedly well and sounds just as punishing and abysmal as ever.