Peaceville Records (2012)
This isn’t a ‘classic album review’ per ce but a look at the 2 disc Peaceville Records re-release of Goatlord. The album was originally intended to be a follow-up to “Soulside Journey”. Stylistically, it didn’t fit in to where Darkthrone saw themselves going at the time and so it was shelved for three years before Fenriz recorded the vocals, finally seeing the light of day five years after its initial recording in 1996 (on Moonfog).
In this version all but one of the original tracks are repeated with audio commentary from Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. These commentaries speak about the recording of the original demo and one of the guys’ favourite topics: their influences at the time. Not much new perhaps, but the spoken parts are done in the typical candid, self-effacing style fans of the band are used to, meaning that it is informative and highly amusing at times. Maybe not the type of thing you’d re-listen to a lot, but a pleasing bonus that gets you inside the mind of the beast.
Musically, “Goatlord” probably makes more sense to fans of the band now than it would have back then, now that we have seen the band develop and know more about what they were trying to achieve. In terms of style, I think is fair to describe “Goatlord” as ‘all over the place’, encapsulating all of the elements Darkthrone have been striving to work into their music ever since – darkness, speed, punk riffing, epic metal sensibilities, organic black thrash drumming and a dirty, home-grown production. It has an endearing lack of restraint – it is as if the guys decided they wanted to do everything they could think of in every single track on the album! Of note on this release, Fenriz experimented with pitch-shifted vocals to achieve a bizarre falsetto that many have found reminiscent of King Diamond (I find it more closely resembles some of the languid and operatic female vocals used by early Celtic Frost). Kind of effective but sometimes funny too!
As far as the songs go, “Goatlord” is a hit and miss offering. There are frequent flashes of genius here and there, lost in a morass caused by the overall lack of focus and direction. However, even at their most challenging, the songs are still have that inexplicable compulsive character that make me return to the Darkthrone back catalogue so often.
And if that is no good, at least this one will guarantee a laugh for Fenriz’ girly vocals and the down-to-earth commentary.
Rating: 4 / 6
Composed by Peter Loftus