Artist: King Goat
Album: Conduit (2016)
Genre: doom, prog metal
Where to buy: Bandcamp
Within the first few seconds, Conduit envelops you in the warp and weft of its fabric. Trim’s haunting vocals cry out in desperation. The guitars’ powerful distortion is kept at just below the level you expect, creating an immediate tension. Comprehension dawns and you realize that this album is a lament for the dying and the dead, and that you are among them. The music is gloriously funereal, imparting a sense of abandon and hopelessness. The songs are long – not one track under seven minutes – and in these lengthy opuses King Goat stretches space and time and dynamics and timbre. The fabric is sometimes tightly woven, sometimes loosely spun, and though the overwhelming theme is helplessness, the compositions are not at all haphazard. They’re a controlled demolition, and the resulting debris rains down on us in a great wash of doom.
Things shift constantly on Conduit. No one track maintains a constant meter throughout. King Goat is equally comfortable locking movements into rigid and forceful times as they are moving from common to compound meters and using transitions that are both firm and gradual. Most of the tempos are slow and deliberate, moving to quicker and double times only occasionally, as is characteristic of doom. And King Goat knows how to take their time, almost to the point of teasing us with anticipation for the next crescendo or downbeat. Listen to the title track’s middle movement, which brings the tempo down to a repetitive crawl, and then bursts into a cut time crescendo before again slowing down to the finish. Nothing about the timing here is off even a little, so our fall into the underworld comes off as very controlled, a testament to Jon’s drumming and the ensemble’s ability to play as a unit.
The lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate to the musical motifs, either. “Flight of the Deviants” proclaims that Satan himself is the progenitor of the cursed mutants, and of course we are included among his children. “Revenants” opens with a distant riff that smashes closer in the second phrasal repetition, joined by the vocal’s growl, which welcomes us to the ageless void. The “Feral King” in the second track is an ode to the animalistic brutality to which we are heir. These lyrics paint for us the ideology of King Goat’s particular style of doom: assured of our basal character, bereft of hope, and irretrievably lost to our collective fate. Conduit reaches toward its goals with naked ambition, and King Goat delivers by any means necessary.