Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Goya - 'Obelisk' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 01/08/2015
Label: STB Records/Opoponax Records

‘Obelisk’ CD//DD//CS//LP track listing:

1). Nothin’ but Dead Stuff
2). The Devil’s Pray
3). The Star
4). Obelisk
5). 300 Eyes
6). The Sun
7). Beyond Good and Evil
8). Echo from Space
9). No Place in the Sky

Goya is:

Jeff Owen | Vocals, Guitars
Nick Loose | Drums
Jirix-Me Paz | Bass


With Windhand currently featured in a list of Rolling Stone’s ’10 artists you need to know,’ which adds itself to a rise in widespread coverage for all things doomy, it seems a genre that has been producing top quality decibels for decades now may just be breaking out of its underground hamlet. Indeed, the sceptics amongst us may scoff at the thought of such a publication sniffing its nose around our parts, are they deeming doom trendy now, only to later be replaced with a new line of artists for the ‘Winter 2015’ collection?. Regardless, we must look on the bright side; that this art form is being admired by an increasingly growing and receptive audience. Even if the flourish may go against the grain a little.

Which brings us to the matter in hand. Drawing lovingly but never outright copying the music of their idols - namely Electric Wizard and Sleep – Goya’s new record, ‘Obelisk’ rears its head at a point in time where the scene is in rude health, and trust me when I say this record stands as undying proof as to why this movement is making waves across the more mainstream orientated media right now.

The authenticity of this album is undeniable; if indeed doom is basking in something of a momentary purple patch in terms of extended coverage and interest, this is a band you simply couldn’t accuse of jumping on the bandwagon to increase their status as a band. Rather, this band is very much the embodiment of the genre, the power of wrung out, booming chord progressions the template to a record that, to dip into the water of cliché spouting journalism for a moment, takes no prisoners.

‘Nothin’ but Dead Stuff’ is sloth paced; building upon a complete absence of urgency, with Jeff Owen’s bellowed vocals riding above the slow crunch and grind of their riff work – that lack of urgency responsible for making it sound so robust and appealing. ‘No Place In The Sky,’ featured on last year’s empathic split EP with Wounded Giant, is all tarred musicality, emphasised by guitars which are both spitting nastily with a fuzz tone to kill for and dripping in wah where needed. Doom is a dark art and this is as foreboding and oppressive as it comes.
However, they don’t allow themselves to fall into a formulaic, ‘let’s just play four chords really slowly for five minutes and shout a bit’ mentality; ‘Obelisk’ packs many a punchy surprise throughout. This is most excellently done on ‘The Sun’ where Owens' early punk rock upbringing sees him injecting a quick change of pace into proceedings. It comes out of nowhere but is done with a precision and cohesion that – my toes are still in the water here, so I apologise – takes your breath away. ‘Fuck’ you think to yourself as the song suddenly bursts into life 'this really is special'. It’s devastatingly heavy, the drums pounding with a real fury while lead guitar lines add yet more texture to the band’s impressively rich tapestry of sounds and threads.

‘The Star’ and ‘Echo from Space’ are two short lived instrumental numbers which give the listener some breathing space between the earthy batterings of their songs proper. Both are dark, ominous and full to the brim with noisy stonerisms to fuck with and blur your mind in a way that only a band of this demented stature can achieve. 

As far as darkness goes though, Owens himself feels that ‘300 Eyes’, a predominantly quiet, acoustic led piece which sounds like it was recorded in a spacious yet eerily empty dark cave in some far off mountain range, is the darkest track of this collection. And he has a fine argument in his favour. You don’t need growling distortion and avalanching toms to create a shadowy scene and, frankly, the disappearance of all the heaviness only makes it more evil considering the unkempt countenance of its neighbours. This track stands out like a blinding light on a sin black night.

The fact that the unpredictability of ‘The Sun’ is what follows only leaves you more flabbergasted. 'Obelisk' is, in all, a thinking man’s doom metal record; it keeps you on your toes, always remains untamed, delivering uppercuts with complete conviction just when you think you’ve sussed them out. Yet, there is always one eye on the prize of their true meaning as a band in the bare bones of shuddering Electric Wizard and Sleep inspired hypnotism. They strike the balance between channelling the genre’s true nature while sprinkling it with a strong sense of individualism; it’s far from just another good doom metal record. ‘Obelisk’ deserves all the credit it gets.

Words by: Phil Weller

‘Obelisk’ be available on DD//CS and CD on August 1 with the vinyl hopefully due in September.

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