Album Review – Goatchrist / Apotheosis (2020)

One of UK’s most innovative underground acts returns with a multi-layered and very experimental concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch.

One year after the release of the excellent Pythagoras and after unleashing upon humanity a series of non-metal albums in 2020, those being Revelations of the Gnostic Christ, The Philosopher’s Hand and more recently Goatchrist, Leeds, UK’s own vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme (or J. Guilherme if you prefer) and his Experimental Black Metal alter-ego Goatchrist are back with another imposing opus entitled Apotheosis, a concept album representing a hugely-modified musical retelling of the Books of Enoch, apocryphal magical texts from antiquity. Following the story of Edris, who leaves his hometown due to his perception of its absolute wickedness in order to find a city of divinely-acting inhabitants, Apotheosis showcases once again the undeniable talent of J. Guilherme, this time accompanied by D. Tann and guests A. Billingham and R. Shipley providing several different voices to give life to all characters involved in the story, inviting the listener to join Goatchrist in another detailed and very entertaining musical voyage.

Stygian guitars permeate the air in the cryptic intro Prologue – From a People Lost… while Jacob begins declaiming its cryptic words, warming us up for the absolutely experimental and progressive Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת), where its lyrics couldn’t have been darker and more poetic than what they already are (“I am born from great evil, / My mind has dwelt in sin. / I have not mind or heart, / As awakened cantors deep within.”), blending Progressive Metal with heavier sounds and non-metal styles and, therefore, turning it into a beyond amazing ride for fans of all types of rock and metal music. And continuing his path of experimentations and metaphysical philosophies, Jacob and his Goatchrist offer another epic composition titled Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth (מֶטָטְרוֹן), where all guitars, drums, keys and orchestrations generate a bold ambience for his demonic gnarls, resulting in a progressive and sharp hybrid of Cradle of Filth and Opeth. Then a very theatrical start kicks off the 11-minute aria Chapter 3 – Five Archangels, bringing to our ears classic piano and keys, deep guttural vociferations and sluggish, Doom Metal-inspired beats, also presenting Jazz-y moments, endless breaks and variations and an enfolding atmosphere from start to finish, not to mention the amazing job done by guest R. Shipley as the voices of Gabriel and Michael.

Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) brings forward another round of Goatchrist’s wicked words (“[0] “No-thing” is that which exists, / And at the start, is that which is. / But from “thing-ness” it is disjoint, / And thus contracts to a single point.”) while the music is once again an explosion of countless rock, metal and other distinguished styles, with Jacob firing classic bass lines, soulful guitar solos and his trademark growling. Put differently, it can’t get any more experimental, multi-layered and dynamic than this. Or maybe it can, as Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) blends elements from Ambient, Shoegazing and Atmospheric Black Metal to Goatchrist’s core Experimental Metal, resulting in a musical voyage where all voices by Jacob, D. Tann and A. Billingham make the whole experience even more enthralling and detailed. Furthermore, it’s interesting how Jacob meticulously added tons of idiosyncratic sounds in the background while at the same time keeping the whole song very cohesive and smooth, growing in intensity until its visceral and beast-like grand finale.

Needless to say, Jacob and his always electrifying Goatchrist managed to surprise us one more time with the high quality of the music and the exceptional concept found in his new album Apotheosis, and after so many top-notch releases in a row and in such a short period of time one can never know where the project will go from now on, which lands and storylines Jacob will explore, nor what types of music styles will be incorporated into his unique compositions. Hence, don’t forget to follow Goatchrist on Facebook, to listen to more of the project’s music on Spotify, and to purchase a copy of Apotheosis from Goatchrist’s own BandCamp page or from Amazon, keeping in mind the BandCamp download will also include two publications, one called “The Magical Key to Understanding the Album ‘Apotheosis’”, and another one titled “Third Book of Enoch”, just to give you an idea of how focused and detailed-oriented Jacob is whenever his mind begins paving the next step in the career of Goatchrist. Are you curious to know what happens to Edris in Apotheosis? Well, why don’t you let Jacob tell you that through the very distinguished music by Goatchrist? I’m sure you’ll get addicted to all of his sonic experimentations, just like what he has to offer in Apotheosis.

Best moments of the album: Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings (מַלְכוּת) and Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Prologue – From a People Lost… 2:12
2. Chapter 1 – …unto the Wilderness, Seeking the City of Divine Beings 9:53
3. Chapter 2 – Hark! Appeareth 7:13
4. Chapter 3 – Five Archangels 11:23
5. Chapter 4 – I Am That Which Is Called ‘I Am’ 9:41
6. Chapter 5 – Reborn unto Paradise (כֶּתֶר in Microcosm) 17:11

Band members
J. Guilherme – all instruments, narration, voices of יהוה, Uriel, Raphael and Lucifer
D. Tann – voices of Edris, מֶטָטְרוֹן and Lucifer

Guest musicians
A. Billingham – voices of Sophia and Lucifer
R. Shipley – voices of Michael and Gabriel

Album Review – My Dying Bride / The Ghost Of Orion (2020)

A lesson in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful metal music by one of the pioneers of the death and doom style.

It’s impressive when even after 30 years on the road a veteran band like West Yorkshire, UK-based Gothic/Doom Metal masters My Dying Bride, one of the pioneers of the death and doom style alongside Anathema and Paradise Lost, is capable of still delivering top-of-the-line music without sounding repetitive, outdated or tiresome, just like what they have to offer us now in 2020 with their 13th studio album, the majestic The Ghost Of Orion, proving once again why the band currently comprised of Aaron Stainthorpe on vocals, Andrew Craighan and Neil Blanchett on the guitars, Lena Abé on bass, Shaun Macgowan on keyboards and violin and Jeff Singer on drums is and will always be a reference in extreme music. Produced by Mark Mynett (Mynetaur), portraying a stunning artwork by Israeli artist Eliran Kantor (Testament, Tristania, Fleshgod Apocalypse), and featuring very special guest appearances by British cellist Jo Quail and Norwegian singer Lindy Fay Hella (from Folk/Ambient band Wardruna), The Ghost Of Orion not only marks the band’s longest gap between studio albums to date, being released five years after their previous effort Feel the Misery, but it’s also a lecture in how to transform pain, agony and grief into beautiful Doom Metal.

As soon as you hit play, get ready to dive deep into the Stygian waters of doom ruled by Aaron and his horde in the opening track Your Broken Shore, with Jeff dictating the rhythm with his somber, sluggish beats while Aaron is absolutely superb with both his anguished, clean vocals and his demonic roars, resulting in the perfect anthem for savoring endless darkness and solitude, not to mention the delicate and whimsical sounds of the cello by Jo Quail and the violin by Shaun throughout the entire song as the icing on the cake. And that lugubrious vibe goes on in the also captivating To Outlive the Gods, with sheer melancholy flowing from its words (“A fool will believe every single word said / And yes you may speak with only me now on the sunrise / Child of my sore and bleeding body come over here / Sit here and say your words feeding only me till sunrise”) while Andrew, Neil and Lena make our hearts tremble with their crushing riffs and bass punches.

Clearly inspired by Aaron’s arduous experience with his five-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer a couple years after the release of Feel the Misery, from which she was thankfully declared in remission later, Tired of Tears brings forward gentle and serene sounds that graciously permeate the air while Shaun is absolutely amazing with his violin, with Lena and Jeff keeping the atmosphere dense and mournful with their sonic weapons. Put differently, this is a lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal with nuances of Depressive Black Metal and Blackened Doom, showcasing My Dying Bride’s undisputed ability to turn pure sadness into grandiose metal music. Following such touching tune we have The Solace, where the hypnotizing vocals by Lindy Fay Hella are solely accompanied by the grim guitar lines by Andrew and Neil in a minimalist and enfolding creation by My Dying Bride.

In the brilliant The Long Black Land the energy emanating from the cello by Jo Quail together with the low-tuned, menacing bass by Lena is outstanding, embellishing even more the song’s over ten minutes of obscure passages spearheaded by the clean and aggressive gnarls by Aaron, giving life to its poetic lyrics  for our total delight (“On the lap of the world I lay my head / Pick my way carefully through our long past / Hold my hand, young one / Hold my hand / Listen to my voice / Hold my hand / Face your God / Your God”) and ending in a classy and mournful manner. The semi-acoustic, phantasmagorical bridge The Ghost of Orion sets the stage for the also bold and intricate The Old Earth, starting also in a gentle and somber way led by Andrew’s and Neil’s acoustic lines, suddenly exploding into a lecture in devilish and sluggish Doom Metal where Aaron declaims the song’s lyrics with passion and rage, overflowing sheer melancholy before the outro Your Woven Shore brings to the listener an ethereal, sinister atmosphere and sonority, putting a cinematic and therefore fabulous closure to the album.

In summary, as aforementioned, Aaron and his bandmates from My Dying Bride simply nailed it in The Ghost Of Orion, available for purchase from the Nuclear Blast webstore and for streaming on Spotify, filling our ears, minds and hearts with an immeasurable amount of melancholy, sorrow and distress in what’s undoubtedly one of the best metal albums of 2020. Having said that, I highly suggest you go check what the band is up to on Facebook and on Instagram, including their tour dates, as they’ll bring the music found in The Ghost Of Orion to the stages near you without a shadow of a doubt. Hence, after listening to such distinguished album of Gothic and Doom Metal (again and again), I’m sure you’ll understand once and for all why My Dying Bride are so important and relevant to the world of heavy music, getting better and better as the years go by just like that fancy red wine you enjoy savoring all by yourself on a cold and rainy night while listening to their undisputed doom.

Best moments of the album: Your Broken Shore, The Long Black Land and The Old Earth.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Your Broken Shore 7:43
2. To Outlive the Gods 7:56
3. Tired of Tears 8:37
4. The Solace 5:52
5. The Long Black Land 10:01
6. The Ghost of Orion 3:31
7. The Old Earth 10:32
8. Your Woven Shore 2:09

Band members
Aaron Stainthorpe – vocals
Andrew Craighan – guitars
Neil Blanchett – guitars
Lena Abé – bass
Shaun Macgowan – keyboards, violin
Jeff Singer – drums

Guest musicians
Jo Quail – cello
Lindy Fay Hella – female vocals on “The Solace”

Album Review – Goatchrist / Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) EP (2016)

Offering an exciting amalgamation of styles and elements, one of the most gripping Blackened Death Metal projects from the UK is back with the next step in its prosperous career.

Rating5

goatchrist-discipline-and-terror-the-timeless-praxes-of-the-drakon-covenant-coverIt’s becoming a delightful routine at The Headbanging Moose to publish a detailed review of the idiosyncratic and whimsical creations by British Blackened Death Metal project Goatchrist at least once a year. With that said, as 2016 draws to its dramatic close, there’s nothing better than carrying on with this special tradition with another top-tier EP by this West Yorkshire-based act led by the young and restless Dominator Xul’Ahabra, this time vampirically entitled Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant).

Featuring American musician Invoker (Defecrator, Gloriam Draconis) on vocal duties instead of Dominator himself, Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is a robust continuation to the prosperous career of the talented Dominator, being different in many aspects from his previous releases, the 2014 full-length She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror and the 2015 EP The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil, by offering the listener new vibrant elements of extreme music spiced up with nuances of other non-metal genres. And despite all advancements and variations in the music found in the EP, it still has that Goatchrist trademark sounding that makes this project stand out in the independent scene.

Bursting violence and anger, Enter Morain presents elements from Black, Death and Thrash Metal united in an aggressive way, with Invoker firing some Hardcore rasp vocals while Dominator delivers his usual darkened riffs and beats, never slowing down and always sounding electrified. The sensational The Burning of Jerusalem follows a pattern closer to Goatchrist’s previous releases, with its guitar riffs and solos, as well as its rhythmic blast beats, bringing a lot progressiveness and epicness to the musicality, making Invoker’s work on vocals easier and more dynamic when growling the song’s insurgent lyrics (“Now burn, Jerusalem. / For your reign has been broken, / By the sword of Western might / Know that we, your enemy, / Gift this blaze to thee, / So ye may bathe beneath its radiant light.”). Moreover, the compelling experimentations of Dominator with all his eccentric sounds and instruments are always a breath of fresh air to his compositions, sounding as if there were three or four songs in one like what we can witness in this excellent tune.

goatchrist-discipline-and-terror-the-timeless-praxes-of-the-drakon-covenant-newlogoThen out of nowhere, Dominator simply surprises us with a gentle atmospheric (and almost symphonic) ballad named A Meditation in Dead Stillness, very introspective and melancholic from start to finish, not to mention its beautiful name, working as a cinematic intermission to all madness flowing from the following song, the elaborate The Shadow of Malintent. Invoker darkly declaims the song’s elegiac lyrics (“The darkness is coming / And I too there dwell: / Older than day or night, / With fury that none may quell. / Sever your causal ties. / And lift your head to meet / with my gaze; then in a daze / See your ego’s defeat.”) while the music brings forward a Blues-ish vibe with elements from classic Western scores, Doom Metal and Blackened Doom, never getting full Black Metal but still feeling as Stygian as the other songs. In addition, the precise sync between Dominator’s guitar solos and bass lines with Invoker’s growls help the duo tell the story proposed magnificently.

Dominator Xul’Ahabra and his Goatchrist, an amazing project that has been on an upward spiral in the Extreme Metal independent scene in the UK since its inception, can be contacted through their official Facebook page, and their brand new opus Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is available at their BandCamp page, where you can also take a very good listen at and even buy all Goatchrist’s previous albums. In summary, Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant) is another solid step in Dominator’s career, offering fans of extreme music an exciting amalgamation of styles and elements and, consequently, fortifying the name of Goatchrist and helping the project achieve new heights and spread darkness all over the world.

Best moments of the album: The Burning of Jerusalem.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Enter Morain 4:27
2. The Burning of Jerusalem 7:31
3. A Meditation in Dead Stillness 2:08
4. The Shadow of Malintent 8:43

Band members
Invoker – vocals
Dominator Xul’Ahabra – all instruments