Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management: Festival of Rebirth of the Sun

goatess ii purgatory under new management

So-called traditional doom can be a difficult balance to walk, but when Goatess made their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013, it demonstrated clearly the vitality that, even more than four decades on from Black Sabbath‘s appearance, could still be injected into a sound that so often seems to be striving to come across as staid as possible. The Swedish four-piece benefited on that record from a standout vocal performance from Christian “Chritus” Linderson, whose pedigree includes stints in Count Raven, Saint Vitus and Lord Vicar, as well as memorable songwriting and smooth shifts in tempo among guitarist Nicklas, bassist Findlus (since replaced by Peter Svensson) and drummer Kenta Karlbom, and their second outing, Goatess II: Purgatory Under New Management — which, like the debut, is out on Svart Records — offers no less in that regard, but also comes across presenting Goatess as more of a full band, having done the work of their first album and come into their own more in terms of sound.

In eight songs/63 minutes, it’s a record heavy enough to justify calling a “slab,” but it maintains its sense of humor, which one need look no further than the album cover or titles like “Murphy was an Optimist” and “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” to see, as well as its lack of stylistic pretense, and both of those work excellently in concert with their songcraft and performance to make II: Purgatory Under New Management a work of raw joy for the doom converted. Not everyone will get it — that, frankly, should be the case for doom at its best — but for those who do, Goatess become something even more special in these tracks.

They begin on a high note with “Moth to Flame” (premiered here), the opener and longest track (immediate points) and also the only song on the record to pass the 10-minute mark in runtime (double points). One of the most crucial elements “Moth to Flame” introduces — aside from Karlbom pulling back to half-time on the crash cymbals, also done to great effect on the later “Silent War” — is psychedelic flourish in Nicklas‘ guitar. It comes in a bridge in the second half of the song, long after the rolling nod has been established, and markedly expands the context for the song.

goatess

Goatess had their stonerized elements on the self-titled as well, so it’s not necessarily something coming out of nowhere, but it is used well in “Moth to Flame” and in the mostly-instrumental-save-for-samples “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” and the penultimate “Wrath of God,” which is part of a strong closing trio of three tracks of surprisingly varied but universally solid doom, Goatess having clearly found their element between cuts like the lurching “Purgatory Under New Management” — marked out by some must-hear Butlerian bass — and the more uptempo rocker “Shadowland,” which leads the way into the second half of the record after the weirdo vibes of “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” subside. Joining “Wrath of God” in that final salvo are “Silent War” before and closer “Good Moaning” after, and each cut is marked out by some element that emphasizes Goatess‘ progression as a band, whether that’s the cowbell-laden classic heavy rock swing of “Silent War,” the aforementioned guitar turn in “Wrath of God” or Linderson‘s vocal harmonies in the waning moments of “Good Moaning.”

One could easily extrapolate that standard to the rest of II: Purgatory Under New Management preceding — whether it’s the cowbell of “Shadowland,” the foreshadowing blend of “Moth to Flame” that sets the table for the entire album to follow, or the airy solo following the landmark hook in the tail end of “Murphy was an Optimist” — but it comes through particularly emphasized as the record begins to make its way out. Still, some of the most triumphant aspects of Goatess‘ second LP are how fluidly it moves between its tracks, how immersive its hour-plus runtime turns out to be, and how much of a wholeness it has front to back, songs united in spirit even as they offer variety in sonics and mood. Goatess rightly reaped considerable praise for their debut, but II: Purgatory Under New Management takes marked steps forward from where they were three years ago, and for that, outclasses its predecessor across the board.

Yes, Black Sabbath is still the key, ultimate, crucial aesthetic ingredient, but consider the gruff semi-spoken delivery from Linderson at the start of “Shadowland” or the patient rollout of the title-track and how its pagan-themed sample ties to “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh….,” and it becomes clear Goatess are working with intent beyond riffing out in classic form, though they wind up doing that in more than able fashion at times as well. Some of their doom-for-doomers ethic might keep them from wider attention that they would otherwise earn, but for the audience they’re speaking to and for the manner in which they’re making their statement, II: Purgatory Under New Management feels like the exact right fit at the exact right time. Little doubt it will stand among the best outings in doom of 2016. It walks that delicate balance gracefully and makes the traditions of its genre entirely its own.

Goatess, “Silent War”

Goatess on Thee Facebooks

Goatess at Svart Records

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One Response to “Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management: Festival of Rebirth of the Sun”

  1. Jose Humberto says:

    Great album , Im enjoying it hugely

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