Back in 2016, British progressive doomsters King Goat were flying so low under the radar that we here at Heavy Music Headquarters didn’t even catch a whiff of their self-released debut album, Conduit. However, it was so good that by the end of the year word had spread like wildfire, and Aural Music signed them and re-released Conduit bundled with an older demo. That leadis us to the band’s sophomore effort, and first with a label, Debt of Aeons.
There won’t be any sneaking up on us this time, and very quickly the boys from Brighton show that Conduit was no fluke. Opening cut “Rapture” is the second-longest song on Debt of Aeons – nearly ten minutes – and after a brief melancholic opening gives way to a majestic riff and Anthony Trimming’s emotional vocals.
Long songs are part and parcel to King Goat’s DNA, and what makes the song lengths bearable is the fact that they are all impeccably arranged. There’s not a moment in “Rapture” where we have a chance to think of anything but the song, from the opening, trembling notes to the epic climax. And that’s just the start.
Speaking of emotional vocals, Trim’s singing was one thing that set King Goat apart from other contemporaries on their debut, and here on Debt of Aeons his already unique delivery has gone a step higher: more emotional and epic, more subdued and powerful. Trim shows he’s quite simply one of the most talented singers out there.
We call music like this progressive doom because it isn’t simply a slow, ponderous riff with sad lamentations wafting across the soundscape. King Goat’s songs are much more than that. Album closer “On Dusty Avenues” is the closest the band creeps to conventional doom, and it’s still a complex beast. They eschew convention throughout, with hints of Pallbearer and Ghost appearing within the same songs, all anchored by theatrical, majestic vocals. The band never loses sight of the end goal in these songs, but always lead us on an enthralling journey to get there.
“Rapture” and “On Dusty Avenues” are fantastic bookends to Debt of Aeons, but the best songs are found in the middle. The title track is a masterpiece in pacing, introspectively mellow to open, leading into fantastic rhythmic interplay between guitarists Petros Sklias and Joe Parson, and a dynamic midpoint that slowly builds into another epic riff, all topped off with an incredibly impassioned vocal delivery.
“Doldrum Sentinels” showcases the band’s power to great effect. It is anchored by the granite-solid Jon Wingrove on drums and Reza G on the bass, and the subtle variation in the drumming line at 50 seconds in is a perfect little twist. While Trim will get most of the attention on King Goat albums, the musicians are no slouches themselves, and “Doldrum Sentinels” is full of driving riffs and pulsing rhythms – and unearthly blackened screams towards the end.
The only downside to Debt of Aeons is, once again, the album length. With material this good, I want more, and while this is longer than their debut, to the tune of two songs and seven minutes, those two extra songs are unnecessary segues. Really, we have another five song, 43 minute effort here, and while the songs proper are excellent, a couple more would be wonderful. That being said, this is the perfect length for a great-sounding vinyl release.
But that’s a minor nitpick of what otherwise is sure to be one of the best albums of the year come December. Beautifully produced, expertly arranged, and featuring superb vocals and musicianship, Debt of Aeons is the epitome of progressive doom metal, and hopefully it gives King Goat the accolades they fully deserve.
(released April 20, 2018 on Aural Music)
Heavy Music Headquarters Rating:
Listen To King Goat – “Doldrum Sentinels”