King Goblin – Goblin King – 4/5
Hello my old nemesis, articulation. Just precisely how do you try to define a band that has next to no comparison, doing it enough to justice to permit this up and coming Japanese band the recognition they deserve? Metal-Archives lists their genre as the horrifically convoluted “Doom / Stoner / Sludge / Psychedelic Metal / Rock” and then goes on to point out the 70s prog and Free Jazz influences along with the growled vocals. It doesn't exactly sound like the author knew what he was talking about does it? Shoving together just about every common combination of doom and its sub-genres in the bands general direction and going 'that'll do,' and I'd berate him further if only I could do any better myself. The fact is this style of Doom – that it is some sort of Doom metal is at least clear enough – doesn't really exist except perhaps as some sort of strange combination of King Crimson, Primus, Eyehategod and Baroness all in some batshit insane package that defies all attempts to pigeon-hole it.
The fact that it seems to take all these influences and combine them into the one package is more than merely impressive, but it allows for a subtle diversity between the tracks as certain aspects take hold; sometimes the free-jazz influences allow for that chaos to rule over the track, though it never gets too carried away, constantly fighting back in that thick sludge like manner to retain its coherency, the dominance of the track steadily swaying as new passages arise from the progressive manner the track unfolds. At other times the dissonant nature takes a notable back seat allowing for the track to take a more slow-paced and sludge filled course, at times bordering on Funeral Doom in its pace, with the bass driving the track forward. And yet then there are still other times when the guitars aren't happy with this idea and start to force their way through the thick wall of sound, slicing through for some psychedelic stoner riffs to sink your teeth into. Point in fact, there isn't a weak point in their sound and it seems all this trio of members can do to wade their way forward to prove they ain't slacking back there.
But this versatile nature comes with its own drawbacks as well; yes they might be unique and their tracks diverse, but its all a little too diverse, and as the album progresses preferences for how they should play begin to emerge. The tasty stoner riffs never come into their own often enough for my liking, and the few sections where they throw in a chaotic 'free jazz' fill to get themselves out of a particular passage on moving forwards are underutilised in the end result (though I would fully expect others to prefer their slower passages, and wish for them to frequent themselves more often). In trying to be everything to everyone, they can never quite fulfil everybody's wishes and will find it difficult to make it into anyone's regular playlist. It doesn't take long to realise they're a creative and talented group of musicians with no shortage of ideas to throw into their creations, but it still feels a little as though they have yet to quite find their sound; the final product begging to be slimmed down, needing a more consistent balance between their influences throughout course of the album. That they have so many styles they can lean on merged together into the end result is their greatest selling point, but they haven't quite got everything as cohesive as it could be, and I wonder just how long I'll have to wait before they do.
Highlights: Megalomaniacs, Equosys, Motordead