Year Of The Goat - The Unspeakable - (8.5/10)
Published on July 29, 2015
“Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror
A love-letter addressed to the prince of darkness himself, Year Of The Goat made themselves known with the EP Lucem Ferre and their subsequent debut Angels’ Necropolis. Taking a seat among the forerunners of the occult rock revival, the morbid Swedes delivered a sound both seductive and cabalistic. They return with the enigmatically titled The Unspeakable, a thematic exploration of that which lurks in the dark corners of the earth.
Moving on from the luciferianism dominating Lucem Ferre and Angels’ Necropolis, The Unspeakable signals a thematic shift towards the cosmic horrors of H. P. Lovecraft. The sprawling opening number “All He Has Read” tells tales of the mad Arab and his grimoire, in the form of a progressively tinged doom rock epic spanning just short of 13 minutes. A haunting ballad of terror from the deep, “The Emma” chronicles the doomed crew of the titular ship as they meet their watery graves. On the other end of the spectrum, shorter tracks such as “Vermin” and “Black Sunlight” dip into 60’s psychedelic and surf rock, reminiscent of more contemporary acts such as The Devil’s Blood and Jess & The Ancient Ones. The main feature placing Year Of The Goat apart from the crowd, however, are the unique pipes of frontman Thomas Sabbathi. With a voice that could charm even the most ichthyoid Innsmouth resident, his vocals range from smooth crooning litanies, to eerie falsettos. Throughout The Unspeakable he is joined by angelic choirs, an addition that could easily have ruined the fragile atmospheres of the music.
Whereas Angels’ Necropolis sometimes felt meandering, the songwriting throughout The Unspeakable is tighter and more varied. The use of choirs is a bold move, but fits the somewhat grand thematic and lends some depth to the more straightforward psych rock numbers. While the subject matter mostly deals with crawling insanity and the summoning of the Old Ones, the upbeat riffs and Sabbathi’s powerful voice gives Year Of The Goat an eclectic edge on the competition, culminating in the dual closing numbers “The Sermon” and “Riders Of Vultures”. The former is a seductive invocation of the elder Gods, musically reminiscent of the Blue Öyster Cult, while the latter sees the climax of the ritual, in the form of a lengthy doom metal opus that heralds the apocalypse.
Although rife with catchy choruses and stand-out riffs, The Unspeakable is an album that rewards the patient listener. The twists and turns make Year Of The Goat a band that requires your full attention, and consequently many of the songs keep growing upon every subsequent listen. It seems that 2015 truly is the year of the goat.