To say that Brighton’s King Goat set themselves a high bar with début album Conduit (self-released) is like saying that Donald Trump is a wee bit controversial. To merely label them a Doom band is, similarly, doing the quintet a severe disservice: that début was laced with emotional vocals, choirs overlaying evocative bridges, and light, textured instrumentalism. It was a tour de force precious few expected.
With Boss Keloid challenging its inventive, melodic yet weighty territory, the Goat has a point to prove. Sophomore release Debt of Aeons (Aural) commences with the layered yet slowly pulverising ‘Rapture’: Anthony ‘Trim’ Trimming’s multi-octave pipes as capable of a throaty roar as they are resonant melody; the fluctuating patterns and lead beauty anchored by rumbling bass lines and huge, fat chords. There’s no time to breathe as the theatrical drama and artistry of ‘Eremite’s Rest’ fuels the comparisons with Primordial that Trim’s voice immediately evokes. Petros Skilas’ leadplay combines effortlessly with Jon Wingrove’s powerful drumming, much as it does on the mammoth title track: a gorgeous yet mournful outset exploding into a pulsating and hugely relevant paean to human ills. Here the bass and rhythm guitar of Reza and Joe Parson truly stand out, whilst the band’s ability to seamlessly progress the music on tangents leaves the listener involuntarily effusive.
It is this seemingly innate and tireless ability, not unlike Karnivool but with heavier tools, that surely sets King Goat apart from their peers. ‘Psychasthenia’ is a brief, eerie interlude reminiscent of Clutching at Straws-era Marillion, the strange growlings, and mutterings of an addled tramp whirling into tuneful insanity, oscillating leads spinning into ever-swelling might in the least directed yet arguably most captivating track of the album. Even on the ever-so-slightly more pensive ‘Doldrum Sentinels’, a Blackened vocal is sandwiched by soaring yet gloomy bridges and harmonies which simultaneously lift the soul.
Album closer ‘On Dusty Avenues’ initially sways along, all Les Misérables mixing with brutal weight toward a delirious explosion. The track fluctuates through these stages, possibly losing an element of immediacy much as Conduit’s finale ‘Sanguine Path’ did…until Trim’s incredible voice ushers in a monumental statement of painful yet ecstatic truth. Harmonies to die for; energising switches of pace; post-black lead flickers; all adding dimensions to a crushing coda.
There’s possibly a lack of immediate brain hooks or standout track on Debt of Aeons. This merely affirms the fact that the Goat has matured and has been able to surpass such a momentous debut with a work of great meaning, depth and musical majesty. If the world must have Syria, the Orange Fuckwit and Brexit, King Goat will gracefully, yet mightily, show us all the error of our ways.