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Lavagoat - s/t (7/10) - Canada - 2011

Genre: Sludge Doom / Progressive Metal
Label: Somnambulist Sound System
Playing time: 45:23
Band homepage: Lavagoat

Tracklist:

  1. The Puritan
  2. Old Man And The Sea
  3. Magma
  4. The House
  5. Rome
  6. The Witch
  7. Interstellar Deserts
  8. Cursed Emperor
Lavagoat - s/t

As I began giving this one a close listen, I was preparing to write it off as yet another well-executed album that was ultimately unmemorable due to its inability to explore any territory beyond the Doom tropes that have already been offered ad infinitum ever since BLACK SABBATH sowed that hallowed ground. The opener, “The Puritan,” began things with a simmering, Sludgy Stoner groove and a vocal style reminiscent of Steven Rathbone (of LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR), and then transitioned to a galloping riff very similar to the closing moments of SABBATH’s self-titled classic song – enjoyable, but definitely safe and derivative.

 

But then the album began to open up like a good craft beer as it passes over the palate, revealing itself more fully. Other influences began to express themselves and demonstrated a work that, despite its heaviness, is also complex and nuanced.

 

Beginning with the third track, “Magma,” this album starts to break away from the clichés of Sludge. Here, the sound begins to tinker around a bit with Prog Rock. Spacey sound effects set the atmosphere, accompanied by a 70’s-style Prog lead, and the bass line is similar to the trippy, meandering style of Geezer Butler from the earlier days. What follows for the duration of this album is a parade of more stylized tunes that showcase a diverse line-up of influences, including MASTODON and ELECTRIC WIZARD. Likewise, LAVAGOAT further keep things interesting with a variety of tempos, from the almost funereal pace of “Rome” to the galloping riff in “Cursed Emperor,” and covering all points in-between.

 

Albums like this one illustrate the importance of listening closely before passing judgment. My initial, cursory listens left me with a sense of “Yeah, this is cool, but I’ve heard it before.” Closer inspection showed me just how wrong that impression had been. Complicated, yet subtle, this is worth an investment of time to check out thoroughly.

(Online June 3, 2011)

Steve Herrmann



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