Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Goatvargr - Goatvargr (2006)

This Swedish-American collaboration involves two of the world’s most brutal purveyors of Noise, namely Nordvagr and Goat respectively. Having already reviewed his excellent collaboration with Merzbow (‘Partikel’), which was also released on the Cold Spring label, I was already familiar with Nordvargr’s devastating craft and his ability to work alongside other leading lights in this genre. Other projects - such as those with Folkstorm, Toroidh and MZ.412 – have also converted legions of warped disciples to the Nordvargr cause. The lesser-known Goat, on the other hand, comes from a vaguely Black Metal background, although many believe this has more to do with general aesthetics than with the actual style of music on offer. However, the packaging certainly looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in a Black Metal collection, with images of blades and spikes, a five-pointed star flanked by Hebraic symbols and a hand-signal locked in the now semi-compulsory gesture of two demonic horns. The first of these seven tracks, ‘Goatlord Rising’, is a whispered mush of faraway rustles and reverse speech. Soon enough, these early markers are flanked by an electronic throb and continuous beeping, slightly rough at the edges and losing their sense of co-ordination a little as significantly harsher forms of interference muscle their way into the mix like an unwelcome guest at an aural free-for-all. The whole shebang flattens out into a steady ambience, a pancake of tranquility, but torrents of aggressive feedback eventually flip everything 360 degrees until we enter a state of crunching energy. Meanwhile, batten down the proverbial hatches, because here comes the second ‘Fix’. It’s an immediate onslaught of Noise power which throbs through the sewage works of your mind like a rubber turd bouncing off the sides of your skull in a display of rhythmic cruelty. I can imagine this being used in a chase sequence, although given the metallic scraping in the background it would have to involve several cars with their exhaust pipes hanging off. ‘Realms of the Goatvargr’ is even livelier, a dozen coat-hangers in a tumble dryer grinding to a halt as low groans appear to resemble a yawning Bagpuss disappearing beneath the approaching mass of a five-ton steam roller. It’s true, I tell you! ‘Filthdaemon’, on the other hand, is like entering Goatvargr’s Earl Grey period, as a more traditional brew of Noise comes whistling from the tip of a giant teapot like streams of radiation rushing towards a fresh crack in the Chernobyl reactor. There are no points of reference here at all, just total electronic wipeout. ‘Droning Hades’ seems far more restrained, a slightly boisterous hum that sounds like Bomber Harris warming up the engine of his Lancaster before psyching himself up for another night of carnage and mutilation in downtown Dresden. But whilst there are one or two radiophonic beeps milling about, on the whole it’s a fairly low-level affair that never really gets off the ground. ‘Beyond the Quorthonian Realms’ is an obvious reference to Thomas ‘Quorthon’ Forsberg, the legendary founder of Bathory and Black Mark Productions who died of heart failure in 2004 at the tender age of 39. It is to him that this album is also dedicated. The track conjures up images of omen-filled skies through which shafts of bright sunlight come to rest upon melting snow, as a heavy-handed beat begins to hammer its way through the semi-tranquil waters that continue to shimmer with a light metallic ambience. But this romantic elegy is shattered completely by a barrage of impenetrable sound that wavers between and static interference and electronic frequencies. It’s almost as though somebody approached our discordant duo beforehand and said ‘come on, do your worst’. Play this at top whack and you’ll create your own ghost town within several minutes. Not a bad idea. As this track gradually controls itself and fizzles out, my brain slowly returns to the comparative realms of normality (as well as the sound of goats!) and I’m left rather shell-shocked at the sheer power that just assailed my senses for a good twelve-and-a-half minutes of total fury. ‘Drunk on the Blood of the Goat’ is, again, pretty rhythmic in a strange kind of way and probably the closest you’ll ever come to tapping your foot on an album of this kind. Oscillating its way through various tempestuous stages, it finally assumes an orchestral role for a final fifteen seconds and soothes your ears as a parting shot. The poison finds its own cure. Perfect. But no Black Metal here, missus.

Review taken from S Y N T H E S I S.

01 - Goatlord Rising
02 - Fix
03 - Realms of the Goatvargr
04 - Filthdaemon
05 - Droning Hades
06 - Beyond the Quorthonian Realms
07 - Drunk on the Blood of the Goat


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