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If you’re at all familiar with underground black metal, then you’ll probably be able to guess what the music made by Glasgow’s Göatshit sounds like, and you’d be entirely right. Entirely recorded, produced, and engineered by one man, A Year of Shit contains Göatshit’s two demos, and is nine tracks of nasty, dirty, absolutely awesome punked-up black metal (the Darkthrone kind, not the sort of thing AC//13 play), with a wicked sense of humour and plenty of Celtic Frost inspired “Uh!”‘s. The name’s as good an indicator as any if you’ll be in to this or not, but frankly, if you’re not then it’s your loss, as this is some of the best metal-punk I’ve heard in a long time.
If you know what to expect then you’ll encounter few surprises here. Wonderfully raw, lo-fi production, riffs that are equally suited for head-banging and moshing, and venomous vocals that spit hate at all and sundry. Frankly, it makes the metal-punk made by most other bands seem pleasant by comparison. There’s a superb understanding of what makes this style work, as shown in the bass-led intro of “Fast And Nasty”, the drumming that isn’t far removed from D-beat at points, or the interplay between vocals at different pitches – see “Make A Change” for just how effective this technique is, especially when the vocals are layered on top of one another. Such things may be at the heart of the genre, but they are executed with such skill that it can’t help but be noteworthy. The final two minutes of “Make A Change” are even as forward-thinking as I’ve heard this style of music be without turning in to pretentious rubbish, and shows that Göatshit are unlikely to run in to any dead-ends any time soon, which is arguably the biggest danger of music like this.
What really sets these demos apart from the pack, though, is the attitude that runs throughout. The sound itself is as nasty and aggressive as you’d hope for a cross between black metal and punk, full of “fuck off!” attitude. But lyrically, it’s hardly the bone-headedness that might be expected from a band named Göatshit. Tracks such as “Forced Hand”, “No Hope. No Glory”, and “Contradiction” may rail against the present state of politics and society, but they do so in a manner that is free of clichés or empty slogans. “Contradiction” is especially impressive, questioning the effectiveness and hypocrisy those who use some of the more extreme methods of protesting or attempting to avoid supporting capitalism (“Living in squalor to protest for peace / but what message was sent when you hit the police?”). Extreme metal tends to attract extreme, black-and-white politics, and it’s a refreshing change to hear such issues tackled with an acknowledgement that shades of grey exist.
But what really stands out is the sense of humour. “Fast And Nasty”, aside from being exactly that, perfectly sums up the attitude that the best metal-punk has whilst referencing paying and homage to some of the greats of early extreme metal. “Guilty Of Being Shite” is the absolute best, though, decrying the state of modern punk whilst referencing Minor Threat both in its central two-chord riff and title. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that having a sense of humour makes Göatshit a joke band, though. These two demos fucking slay, and exemplify all that is good about the combination of dirty punk and black metal.