Goatmoon
Stella Polaris

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]
Written by Mars Budziszewski
April 5th, 2017

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I uh…I disagree fully. I listen to a ton of black metal. If I find out a musician I like is a Nazi, I stop listening. and I’m not the only one.


  2. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    Fair enough. I’m quite aware that many metal listeners share your policy. What I wrote in the second paragraph is an over-arching generalization but there is a sizable base of black metal fans for which a band’s ideologies are a non-factor. For this review I sought not to spotlight ideological controversy. I acknowledge it without basing the whole review on it in lieu of the music. I don’t purposely seek out NS or politically extreme black metal nor do I find it morally bankrupt just listening to the music of such bands, in the same way you wouldn’t by reading books about World War II or the Nazi party of that time. I certainly don’t align with these ideologies. In comparison I’m sure both of us own dozens of albums by bands calling for the death of Christians and don’t bat an eye. Listening to these marginal genre records haven’t influenced us to murder or organize in conspiracy to commit genocide, let alone the public at large, so I don’t feel particularly bad for listening to Deicide, for instance.


  3. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    On my technical mistakes. That’s what I get for writing and editing at 1am. Yuck.


  4. Commented by: Grindymcgrinder

    Doesn’t bother me what his ideology is.sjw’s need to stay out of black metal.


  5. Commented by: Pin tweaks

    …and now I want to start an sjw black metal outfit. “Serene Jeweled Winter” or some such thing.


  6. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I’m not a fucking SJW, dude. I’ve been listening to black metal for close to 20 years now. I hated Nazis then and I hate them now, and I don’t support them, or people who make excuses for them.


  7. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    also, suggesting that reading books about world war 2 is similar to listening to NS bands is a false equivalency: bands like Marduk and Ash Pool write songs about the second world war: They aren’t nazis. that’s much more like reading a history book.

    I’m not saying you should stop reading or writing about NS bands. do whatever you want. but you can’t expect everyone to be quiet when you gloss over that aspect.


  8. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    It’s shifty territory, certainly. You could say I glossed over their ideologies, but I meant to write a review for a black metal album not an op-ed column about the harms of NS or Nazi-ism in general and in metal. As to what you consider a false comparison about reading world war II books you sort of made my point in your reply. The analogy I meant being: that I enjoy the music of Goatmoon does not mean I align with their regressive ideologies. Descent, moral people have researched and written long books on just the Third Reich and never turned in the process. Again, so few bat an eye if band members murder people, display the disembowelment of women on their covers, or call for the genocide of religious peoples but the NS stuff rings peoples bells. I really do respect your stance Nick and I’ve said my peace. Any more and I’m probably just repeating myself. Goatmoon realistically probably got $7 out of me from the pre-order. I suppose I’ll take my internet lashings and move along.


  9. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    you’re a far more magnanimous individual than I.


  10. Commented by: Grindymcgrinder

    Some people need to keep their opinions to themselves. The world in general would benefit greatly from this practice.politically correct had no place in art and those who would censor art should be exterminated.sjw or not. Censorship is facism.and those are the people I will fight against until I die.


  11. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Digging this. Like the Gehenna circa ‘second spell’ buzzing guitars and vibe.


  12. Commented by: Grindymcgrinder

    You nailed it!!


  13. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    okay, dude. fight me.


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