GOATHIII. Shaped by the Unlight (2021)REVIEW

No longer serving under the thumb of false demiurge, we welcome the decline of mankind and the proud dissolution of what absurd waste the preoccupied mind of modern man represents. — What is real, what is valuable, and what lies within occult vagaries and vulgarities yet to be divined all come to form ‘III: Shaped by the Unlight‘ a uniquely set third full-length from blasphemic and aggressive blackened death metal trio Goath, wherein the Nuremberg-based fellows pride themselves on reality-based capture; That is to say that they’ve always recorded partially live in studio, emphasizing their well-rehearsed and believable performances in presentation of classic death metal standards twisted into surrealistic blackened, thrashing morass. An idealistic opposition of mechanical short-cuts and/or bog-standard predictability allows their craft to wheel anywhere it pleases without lancing too deeply the sacred bubble of elite black/death metal hybridization and its several generations deep traditions.

Who are Goath? The original line-up featured two (now) ex-members of Deathronation including guitarist/co-vocalist Goathammer and (now) former bassist/co-vocalist Muerte along with drummer Serrator, both of whom are also in Total Hate. Though one could rightfully assume a relation to their previous work together on the impressive ‘Hallow the Dead‘ the modulation of Goath‘s death-thrashing riff attack leans away from that 80’s death metal style and into 90’s black/death metal performance with a bit of a bestial, war metallic insurgence informing the first demo (‘Goath‘, 2016) and ‘Luciferian Goath Ritual‘ (2017) most clearly. From the start they’ve cited Florida death metal classics, Norwegian black impetus, and Ross Bay originals in setting their sound under an appropriate outsized-enough umbrella, likewise pulling together the major underground headspace in their own region via extreme metal guitar work and putting their own thrashing “power trio” spin on it. In other words, they’re a blackened death metal band who’ve always pushed beyond an expected amount of worship.

In the interest of getting right to the riffs that’ll stick, we can jump right to ‘II: Opposition‘ (2018) a thus-far defining moment for the band where we can generally enter the headspace of the band’s main songwriters and see they are likely the type to progress quickest through experiential learning, a self-imposed trial by ‘error’ that finds a clearest vision through iteration. That is to say that ‘Luciferian Goath Ritual’ and the steps taken within its follow-up saw finer detail, increasingly tightened (yet still sharp, angular) guitar arrangements containing complete phrases in multiples, and an emphasis on a variety of song types and malevolent moods. The title track from that album, “Opposition”, frames this ideal quickly, whipping between cavernous death and blackened war-grinding movements and harassing with intentionally placed riffs. Never a mess but always with a brutal black-thrashing spirit in hand, a characteristic we now find more entangled and violent on ‘III: Shaped by the Unlight’ (see: “Shaped by the Unlight”). The gist of my run through a refresher of past releases and their relevance to this third work is that Goath‘ve built something unusually coherent from myriad influences, sustaining a tangible interrelation of parts and sense of ‘progress’ from then ’til now as a result. The thread is extended into unusual extremes on this third album but it comes via their usual alliances employing the impressive Patrick W. Engel (Temple of Disharmony) for the final render and Misanthropic-Art, whom designed the logo for this website, for their cover art. Fine work and solid continuity with the standards set by ‘Luciferian Goath Ritual’.

The punishing force of Goath‘s entrance is what’ll most likely pull first-time listeners in with its ‘South of Heaven’-via-Necrophobic channeled opening moments as “Symbiosis Of Vengeance And Guilt” sheds the tentative skin of past efforts and cracks into a piece that should probably remind old heads of late 90’s Belphegor; Specifically the more melodic and concise pieces from ‘The Last Supper’, a fair crossing of black metal movement and rasp with a pure death metal structure beyond the blasted release at its crux, which we’d find more in the United States black/death spectrum of evolution throughout the 2000’s. What energy you resonate, you get in return. ‘III: Shaped by the Unlight’ is designed to pull the listener in with pure enthusiasm so, the first impression is likely going to be inspired especially if you lean towards the black-thrashing spectrum of blackened death metal — A hard crowd to impress for sure but with Goath‘s holistic evolution in mind beyond their bestial beginnings it is an energetic refinement with a fair amount of reasonable detail. If you are not a fan of big grooves, blackened thrash and a bit of the brutal Deicide influenced black/death the Polish underground is famous for this Bavarian troupe might otherwise appear as a blunt instrument upon approach. I’d found the first single, and video, “Dissolving Flesh Redemption” did a lot of work in terms of pulling me into the actual depth of the album beyond its over the top blasphemic introductory energy. This is where we start to hear more pronounced contributions from new bassist/co-vocalist Nils Fjandannson while Goathammer begins to incorporate weirder Dagon-esque vocals into the song concurrently. This is a sharp sample of where Goath are at today, clearly they’ve absorbed a bit of the current black/death landscape (via some open-ringing chord riffs for refrains) but they’ve molded this into their own ritualistic blasphemic horror theme. This is right where the peak of the album -should- be and acts as perfect framing for “Epitome of Perpetual Rage” to shine as a centerpiece for the early Florida death metal influences that fundamentally drive Goath‘s arrangements to shine, grooves that circle the listener like a smirking predator. An unholy end to Side A doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve put all of their cards on the table but, I’d definitely say the end of the first half sets the tone for the rest of the record to stretch beyond any previously established zone of comfort.

In terms of Side B, the only flailing fist I’d found didn’t land in terms of composition was “Clitless Loyalty”. Apart from its throat-sung ending it’d been the only piece on the album that didn’t really add to the greater statement or match the nearby fluidity of forms. This might also stem from a lot of my interest being pulled towards the true divergence nearby as “Perception” takes a full step outside of expectation with ‘clean’ vocals that work quite well with the heavy metal riffing here, landing more like a recent Black Wizard song if it were performed by Goreaphobia. Though I’m not sure the groove riffing entirely works for the mid-point of the piece, the whole experiment of it is a success and something fresh beyond expectation near the endpoint of the record. “Impregnated with Black Fire” surprisingly takes this same thread and extends it into a quasi-epic heavy metal format which again works quite well and provides some stark contrast with the rapid-fire opening moments of the record. Classic as their influences are Goath‘s presentation of their third full-length showcases a surprising willingness to experiment with tone and texture, take well-informed risks with vocal work and perhaps all of it lands so well because of their tried-and-true blackened death metal foundation. ‘III: Shaped by the Unlight’ is a trip, a ride and yet still a ‘for fans of’ record meant to land squarely in the hands of folks who appreciate the potential mutations that admixtures of black and death metal’s higher blasphemic standards allow. A distinct and energetic hoark of black/death metal that I grew to appreciate quickly. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:III: Shaped by the Unlight
LABEL(S):Ván Records
RELEASE DATE:April 9th, 2021
BUY: Ván Records Store
GENRE(S):Blackened Death Metal,
Black/Thrash Metal

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