Lavagoat – S/T …   Leave a comment

My first thought when pressing play on this full-length album from Saskatoon’s Lavagoat was, is this the same band that release that rather ordinary demo two or so years ago. Apparently it is and so this album comes as a total surprise and goes way beyond any expectations I had for it. I always thought they had potential but I wasn’t expecting this. Lavagoat have become a sludge-doom outfit with some real backbone and dare I say….soul. The band obviously have a diverse range of influences and that certainly has proven to be a bonus for them when composing these tracks as these tunes cross over everything from Black Sabbath, Trouble to Mastodon to Eyehategod and really everything else in-between. This is a diverse, multi-dimensional album that pummel’s the listener from start to finish but it is not just riffs for the sake of heavy riffs, there is some real substance to the tracks.

The first time I heard the album opener, ‘The Puritan’ I thought this is the kind of stuff that Cathedral should be put out for their final release due next year. Not only does it sound a bit like the classic stoner, proggy, doom that Cathedral do best but the vocals too have a similar vibe about them and it sounds equally as mystical. One of the bands strongpoints is that the vocals are shared by bassist Sean and guitarist Graeme and all band members also share writing duties. Yes, Lavagoat are real heavy but there is a million heavy bands out there so what makes this anything different? Well for a start, the band never get locked into a single groove or formula for too long, these songs move, swing, gallop and plod at different times throughout the album and they do it with crushing force to spare. These songs are kind of complex for what they are but have enough subtle passages to keep it a meandering, psychedelic experience. ‘The Puritan’ along with ‘Magma’ and ‘The Witch’ are all Cathedral-esque in as much as it is stoner-metal, doom and sludge that is meddling with prog-rock clichés. These 3 songs are highlights but Lavagoat have many more tricks up their collective sleeves.

‘Old Man and the Sea’ is more traditionally metallic with blackened harsh growls and a faster approach to guitar riffing. Same can be said for ‘The House’ which like ‘Old Man and the Sea’ is great but definitely generic and derivative of many other bands, luckily they do it with enough infectious metallic clout to make it memorable. ‘Rome’ is one of the albums most doomed-out moments especially in the tunes first half, the track then veers off into a more traditional stoner-metal direction but the sound is thicker than molasses and is a perfect lead-in to a track I have already mentioned titled ‘The Witch.’ Lavagoat have a certain Lovecraftian edge that is interwoven throughout the album, no more so than on ‘Interstellar Deserts / Azathoth’ that references one of the known gods right there in the title. This almost 8 minute instrumental is Lavagoat at their most diverse as this track showcases all the different styles, moods and grooves that this album has all within the one track. As a composition, it is not exactly mind-blowing but it still shows the listener that these guys are great players and are more than capable of producing sonic-bliss.

The albums last track and a major highlight for me is ‘Cursed Emperor’ which gallops along with extraordinary drumming and the main riff to the tune is pure gold. Again you can be excessively concerned with critical or inconsequential details about how it is predictable and you can prognosticate about how memorable this album will be in the long-term but for now, I am digging the hell out this album. Don’t make the mistake that I did and simply play it once and pass it off as ‘just another stoner-doom release.’ It is generic in parts but there is many dynamics and subtleties to Lavagoat that you can’t hear from just one listen. The more you listen, the more music comes out of this album. But, I also have to say they are capable of much better and I have heard they are working on a new album called ‘Monoliths of Mars’ that should blow this one away. This album is indeed a stepping-stone to far greater things but for now, this is good enough. Buy it………8.5/10

Lavagoat on Facebook
Somnambulist Sound System


Posted June 28, 2011 by doommantia in Lavagoat

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