Monday, 16 January 2017

[ALBUM REVIEW] Goatmoon - Stella Polaris


1. Intro
2. Stella Polaris
3. Kansojen Hävittäjä
4. Wolf Night
5. Sonderkommando Nord
6. Warrior
7. Conqueror
8. Overlord

Genre - Black Metal
The Finnish black metal scene continues to solidify its position as the strongest and most productive of the Scandinavian countries in the last 15+ years or so, with acts such as Sargeist, Horna, Clandestine Blaze and Satanic Warmaster among many others, it's a hard argument to counter that there's any other country in the world continually producing as much quality black metal as Finland. Where-as with the likes of Norway where the scene stagnated long ago, mainly due to the fact many of the acts still claw at the coattails of residual past glories, the Finns appear to have a consistent knack for drawing fresh inspiration while still maintaining the core ideology of what black metal actually stood for.

Goatmoon are one of these bands, now onto their fifth album of remorseless black metal barbarity, with Stella Polaris, and as with Voitto Tai Valhalla, Blackgoat Gravedesecrator (what a name!) continues with the band's progression from the primitive dishevelled black metal garage punk noise of the debut to a more structurally refined and melodic, yet still jagged and recognizable style of pagan themed black metal. If you pour a glance over the fantastic cover art, it actually does give you a good impression of the sound present on Stella Polaris. The main backbone of the music is still a heavily significant juxtaposition of the sadism of Satanic Warmaster and obnoxious punk styled riff work of Absurd.

One of the first things that stood out for me on this album was how much it reminded me Swedish band Vinterland. I don't think this was intended, it lacks the depressive attitude of Welcome to My Last Chapter, but at times the absolutely frigid, crystalline gleam of the atmosphere on Stella Polaris coupled with Blackgoat's harsh, bitter rasp, drew my attention to it more than once.

When the album is good, let me tell you it is fucking brilliant, the title track packs a punch with it's fast, icy sharp tremolo riffing, synths and upbeat tempo all tied up with some pretty flashy heavy metal styled guitar leads. 'Kansojen Hävittäjä', a track from the split with Der Sturmer early last year makes a return, and without doubt is one of the greatest tracks Goatmoon have ever wrote. The contrast between the sharp lively riffing and main 'chorus' riff is absolutely fantastic, and when it comes in again at 2:30 in the higher key wrapped in those synths, it is utterly astounding. The last three tracks are all very tight too, following the same paths between the caustic relentless black metal and the glacial folky atmospheres, even bringing to mind the likes of Emperor such as heard on “Overlord”, which takes a slightly more astral slant. What I like about Blackgoat's use of synth is that he obviously knows how to use it with restraint; synths used sparsely but at the the right time can be so much more effective than drowning the album in them like some overambitious Tolkien freak.

My problem with Stella Polaris has nothing to do with the actual music itself, and that's the really frustrating thing present here; the musicianship on showcase here absolutely stellar, it's Goatmoon doing what they do best, and the next logical step on from their last album. It's just once the last track finishes, I was kind of left sitting thinking to myself “Is that it?”. Because if you take out the intro, the unnecessary “Wolf Night” and “Sonderkommando Nord” (which is a nice almost Celtic-esque instrumental, but would have been so much more interesting with vocals) then you only have five proper tracks, one of which appeared on a split EP last year. And with the album as a whole only clocking in at 31 minutes, you almost feel a bit short changed, of which is only exacerbated by the fact that musicianship on those five songs is just so fucking excellent, it just goes by in a flash. And for that reason I just can't give this album the nigh-perfect mark I wish I could.

Still though, dis-regarding the previous aspect about the length, Stella Polaris should still most certainly be sought out by all self-respecting fans of the band and those into riff-centric, pagan-themed, atavistic black metal. Goatmoon deliver their doctrine with an iron hand, no compromise, and displaying everything that black metal should be, an ugly and raw middle finger to tolerance, pretentious 'progressive avant-garde' nonsense and just shite fucking black metal in general. It's short and straight to the point, just a pity it's all so brief.


Originally written for

If you like  - Baptism, Sargeist, Satanic Warmaster

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