Goatmoon have little web presence, only recently creating a Facebook page and managed by an affiliate of the band. They show little interest in interviews, or articulating their ideologies, opinions, or musings beyond the music they release. In fact, I can already hear him spouting dismissal and obscenities in harsh Finnish, “Critics and reviewers can F.O.A.D.” (A central tenet of the black metal ethos). From what I gather, the band is bestowed rare consideration by the black metal underground. The highly coveted, elusive, and fog obscured, prize of ‘credibility’. …Not that Goatmoon care in the slightest, of course.
This prize is a result of two major factors: (1) Their catalog is considered largely unblemished in quality Even as their sound has cleaned up from one release to the next they stay true to the fundamentals of the sound. (2) The face and brains behind Goatmoon, Blackgoat Gravedesecrator, seems to be held in rather high regard as a bastion of unwavering idealistic and musical integrity. Whether those ideals might be considered “negative” or “regressive” to an outside observer is of no concern, for fans and participants consider black metal a cultural realm where outside rules or opinion are hardly welcome. A point I’m sure many would gladly declare: The black metal underground is not a safe space. If you want to read further into Blackgoat’s ideologies and related controversies there are many internet forums or the band’s own lyric content to be explored. From here on it’s about the music.
It’s 2017 and Goatmoon grace this spinning rock of garbage with much anticipated new album Stella Polaris. If you’re a fan it’s all a bit brief, taking into account the intro, mid-album instumental, and outro. However, if you’re a fan you’ll be damn pleased with anything new Goatmoon unleash to the hordes. I introduced myself to Goatmoon only last year to be honest. Realizing the first few albums are impossible to own (I consider $70 – $90 on discogs for a cd ‘impossible’) I downloaded them. Starting with Death Before Dishonor I was immediately struck by the viciously raw, clanging production and Blackgoat’s shredded, hateful vocals. The blood in my veins turned cold and black. It didn’t take much longer for the simple but ruthlessly catchy guitar riffs to present themselves. The goat of their logo hath speared me by its horns. The next album, 2007’s Finnish Steel Storm, cleans up considerably and the songs only benefit because of it. The addition of prevalent organ brought a fresh but familiar accompanying factor for melody. Still considered the band’s crowning glory, every song is an achievement of excellent song writing made up at the core of powerfully ascendant riffs, one after another. There isn’t a great number of black metal bands that exude such a high level of pissed-off energy.
I hasten to continue the album by album run down but those leading up to Stella Polaris featured more pagan/folk influence in the riffs with presence of flute, and more acoustic guitar parts. Stella Polaris doesn’t exactly loose those elements as integrate them seamlessly whether it’s wrapped into the black metal part or a separate passage altogether. It harks back to Finnish Steel Storm, and tightens up the pagan metal parts from the last two albums, but is even more composed. “Kansojen Havittaja” for instance could’ve easily appeared in the track listing for that album. The main riff that begins and ends the song is catchy and effortlessly epic. It’s swift, soaring, and deadly, bringing to mind the gods of old existing in the same physical space but on a separate spiritual dimension. Drinking, battling, or floating beyond the tree canopy they can see the people but the people continue on in complete ignorance of their grand antics. “Wolf Night” conjures the unwieldy energy from Death Before Dishonor with a vicious and cutting riff. Unexpectedly, at 0:47, it goes the epic route with a masterful keyboard heavy launch into the snowy reaches of the arctic night. It’s damn impressive what they delivered in just a minute and a half.
Stella Polaris has other unexpected elements show up through the record. Track 2 “Stella Polaris” ends with melodic guitar passage/solo that would sound at home on a Children Of Bodom album. Imagine that… flare on a Goatmoon album. It’s a solid opening that acts similarly to a play programme given out to entering audience. It features every tool in their toolbox that they’ve accrued to this point: The fast 2nd wave black metal riff, a less speedy verse, pagan metal interlude and, why not, a fairly classic heavy metal finish. Perhaps the strikingly bright cover art in contrasting blue and purple, is the tip-off that this is another progression of their sound, not a sequel of a previous album. “Sonderkommmando Nord” is a reflective mid-paced instrumental. Very well paced with a building melodic guitar theme coming in at 2:57, right before a listener might otherwise trail off. It’s a well-placed lead into “Warrior”, a really solid and fairly straight forward black metal tune. It fits fine into the album but the real stand out part is the pagan metal breakdown near the half way point. “Conqueror” is similar but stronger, coming in defiantly with a sneering, punked-up black metal riff. This transitions to a now familiar soaring keyboard and guitar verse. “Conqueror” also brings back that mean organ more prevalent on Finnish Steel Storm. It really does peak the levels on the sinister meter paired with the underlying guitar riff. The album ends with “Overlord”, a blasting affair falling ever faster toward the Lapland landscape like Tsjuder as depicted on the albums cover. The melodic yet menacing verse riff is classic. Had it been featured on some album in the early 90’s, say Immortal or Emperor, certainly the song would find its way onto best of lists to this day. The organ returns in triumph to lead charge to the end, rather than the last song fade politely away.
In the pantheon of the Goatmoon discography Stella Polaris truly feels like a natural progression from all that came previous. Every element of strength the band has contained since the beginning is present. Stella Polaris is pulls back some of the melancholy, and artfully integrates the folkish instrumentation from previous album Voitto tai Valhalla such that it doesn’t come off as parts separate from the black metal core. Goatmoon’s gift of writing ‘effortlessly epic’ songs pervades through all of Stella Polaris. Combined with the crystalline production, and brisk run time of about 28 minutes, Stella Polaris makes for one of the bands best albums both technically and musically.[Visit the band's website]