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Goatcraft – Mephistophelian Exordium

Mephistophelian Exordium
by Brian Lowrie at 12 December 2020, 1:40 PM

Being an instrumental band has always held some sort of prestige over other bands, in my eyes, due to the virtuosity it takes to properly express your message without conveying words. Even though instrumental music has taken a large chunk of today’s metal scene, nowadays, Goatcraft intends to change the way the world thinks of classical music by delivering music that can be seen as “black metal, if played with strictly a piano.” I am also a huge sucker for piano as an instrument, so naturally my curiosity has been piqued, as I’m struggling to understand how one would go about this while breaking the potentially monotonous cycle they put themselves in.

Truth is, this album is going to be a lot tougher to review than I imagined, as there are 24 tracks, and only 2 of them have titles (one of the titled tracks is an entire live performance, which I will discuss last, as something this grandiose should have been used as a bonus track or it’s own separate release) The first studio track is called “Mephistophelian Exordium”, the long-winded title track of the album. Upon first glance, the sections transition smoothly and feel natural, which is a high-praise of itself for how technical the music actually is. Even though black metal is known for having layers upon layers of tracks, everything on this record feels like it was played by one person, and in one take. The fluttering melodies in, let’s call it “Track 3”, are pretty mesmerizing, despite the microscopic nuances that can be heard by picking this apart. Even though I would normally be quick to chastise this on certain records, we are in an era that sounds a little too perfect, and it’s these little discrepancies that make it apparent to the listener that “yes, this was indeed played by a human and not just sampled on a computer.” throughout the record, it becomes apparent that these types of melodies could be seen as the repetitious chord voicings found in black metal, and despite them being a common occurrence, there is enough variation and switches within the sections themselves that allow them to stand out from each other. “Track 7” feels a lot angrier than the tracks before it, choosing to stay at a constant pace and not deviate into the more somber melodies. This is one of the tracks I would actually love to reverse-engineer into a full-band track, as some of the chord progressions could make for some awesome Lovecraftian metal. “Track 8”, on the other hand, feels like a score from a John Carpenter horror film, by including a lot of single-note melodies that are as morose as they are foreboding. Even though technical musicianship has been a little on the back-burner (for good reason, in my opinion), it’s pieces like “Track 13” that show Lonegoat at his busiest; even though the feat of an 8-minute track that doesn’t break its pace is impressive, the song feels a little more overwhelming than the others. “Track 17” is a much shorter affair, and is one I found to be more effective in exhibiting a more purposeful dissonance, especially in contrast of “Track 18”, which sees a mystical return to film-score-like progressions. It’s at this point that I feel I should mention, there are a lot of “bridge” tracks, which, as brief as they are, never offer more than ambiance, or occasionally setting the stage for the next track. As unsettling as these tracks may be, I found myself more interested in the piano tracks over these tracks. Moving into the final songs, I found it interesting that the album didn’t end on “Track 22”; for being over 13 minutes, it builds itself better than “Track 13” does, and feels like a more solid closer than “Track 23” and “Track 24” (which make it pretty apparent they are parts 1 and 2 of eachother). “Track 22” seems to be the track that ties together a lot of the concepts and feels the most rewarding to the listener for making it this far as well.

Onto the introduction to the album, “Live at KSYM in San Antonio, Texas”, my umbrella opinion has already been stated, but again, this should have been released separately and not used to open an album. With that being said, it’s worth noting that Lonegoat is completely able to pull off these tracks in a live setting almost flawlessly, which is thankfully something that overshadows the overbearing “loudness” of the track (the constant low-end rumbling is something that should have been more distracting than it was.)

I hope this review wasn’t too hard to follow along with, as I still have a hard time racking my brain around which untitled track is which. I will admit, this is something I find both intriguing and annoying, as it allows the music to present itself without any preconceptions from the listener, but also makes it a pain to reference any particular moment in the entire album. But I digress; overall, this album is the sum of a bunch of big ideas that shouldn’t have worked out this well. As states before, I was concerned with the potential monotony of the record, but most of the songs are able to stand on their own feet without being part of a bigger picture, and that makes me more likely to return to this album in the future. Lonegoat clearly has some mastery over the piano that I wish to obtain with my own passions, and I would absolutely be into the idea of him creating music for movies or video games.

Songwriting: 8/10
Musicianship: 9/10
Memorability: 8/10
Production: 8/10

4 Star Rating

1. Live at KSYM in San Antonio, Texas
2. Mephistophelian Exordium
3. Untitled
4. Untitled
5. Untitled
6. Untitled
7. Untitled
8. Untitled
9. Untitled
10. Untitled
11. Untitled
12. Untitled
13. Untitled
14. Untitled
15. Untitled
16. Untitled
17. Untitled
18. Untitled
19. Untitled
20. Untitled
21. Untitled
22. Untitled
23. Untitled
24. Untitled
Lonegoat -  compositions, piano
Record Label: Hessian Firm


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