Review: King Goat – Debt of Aeons

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Label: Aural Music

Long ago, back in the mists of time, a little band called Candlemass released an album called Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. It went on to be pretty influential, and there’s a lot of doom bands out there who sound a bit like Candlemass. Now, King Goat don’t sound like Candlemass; their brand of doom is more expansive and progressive, with open vistas and sights that will sear themselves upon your soul. But what Debt of Aeons has in common with Epicus Doomicus Metallicus is that first word – epic. Debt of Aeons is an album that sounds and feels absolutely massive, as if it were the chronicle of some profound, deeply personal journey. It is heart-wrenching in a way few doom albums are, and is within touching distance of greatness.

From the start, it’s clear that Debt of Aeons is going to be an emotional record. The clean guitars and spacious drum patterns that usher opener ‘Rapture’ in are musically quite soft, but heavy with emotion and a sense of foreboding; all of which makes the musical heaviness, when it does arrive, all the more effective. This contrast between space and musical claustrophobia, deft restraint and heaviness – ultimately, between light and dark – is one of the best features of Debt of Aeons, with each song on the album being a prime example of how a sense of pacing and contrast can be effective at producing the desired sense of heaviness and emotional poignancy.

One of the other standout features of Debt of Aeons, and of King Goat as a whole, is the vocals of Anthony Trimming. The frontman largely sticks to clean vocals, and it’s a very effective choice. His soulful vocals are thick with feeling, pouring his heart in to every word; most notably when his vocals soar, as they often do towards the end of lines. It brings to mind some of Alan Averill’s best moments with Primordial, and a valid comparison can be made in the way both vocalists are both obviously talented, but also possess a sense of rawness, that lends their respective bands a relatable, heart-felt element no matter the exact words being sung.

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That’s not to say that Debt of Aeons is an album defined only by its sense of misery. As would be hoped for from doom metal, there are plenty of sterling riffs to be found, with one of the best being the opening driving riff to ‘Eremite’s Rest’, that moves with real purpose and strength. Even if you don’t tap in to the emotional wavelength of Debt of Aeons, there’s plenty of musical thrills to be had for fans of progressive doom within its almost 50 minute duration.

But it’s the emotional aspects that keep me coming back to Debt of Aeons. For all its misery and sorrowful lyrics, this is an album that also offers a remarkable sense of catharsis, with its bleak outlook never feeling self-pitying, but instead the result of a harsh self-appraisal, all wrapped up in some of the most epic (yet relatable and grounded) doom to have been released this year. Put it on late at night, when you’re feeling lonely and like nothing is going right, and it will help see you through to the morning; and sometimes, an album that can do that is exactly what you need. This is quite wonderful.

Debt of Aeons is due for release on 20 April 2018, and can be pre-ordered on CD and vinyl via the Aural Music webstore; and digitally, as well as on CD and vinyl, via Bandcamp.

 

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