Review Summary: Finnish black metal mastery
In 2007, Goatmoon surprised the black metal community greatly with the release of Finnish Steel Storm
, which expertly combined raw black metal with traditional folk instrumentation and provided further proof that Goatmoon was a force to be reckoned with in the black metal scene. Four years after the release of Finnish Steel Storm
Goatmoon released the album’s anticipated follow up, Varjot
on Werewolf Records. Upon its release, the album was well received and is considered by many Goatmoon fans to be one of the band’s best albums.
Clocking in at around 34 minutes, Varjot
is one of the shortest albums in the Goatmoon catalogue. As the album begins, acoustic guitars play a folk inspired melody that builds over the course of two whole minutes before fading out as sounds of thunder begin to play. Suddenly, a loud crack of thunder is heard as blast beats and black metal riffs kick in starting off the first song on the album, “Storming Through the White Light”. Over these riffs, wind instruments and even a piano play, making it apparent to the listener that the band’s folk sound from their previous album is still fully intact. The song slows down a bit as Blackgoat Gravedesecrator’s (you can’t make these names up) vicious vocals kick in alongside an excellent folk inspired guitar lead. As the song continues, there is more folk instrumentation as it leads into a guitar solo and then into what I can only describe as a keyboard lead. Coming in at around six minutes, the song is an excellent representation of the music on Varjot
as a whole. Every song on the album follows this sort of formula, aside from the slow build up. There are often traditional black metal riffs backed by folk instruments that lead into massive guitar solos and some borderline symphonic parts involving keyboards. It is safe to say the overall sound of the album is quite impressive.
As far as individual performances go, Varjot
is a tightly executed album. Despite being a multi-instrumentalist himself, Blackgoat once again enlisted the help of several guest musicians to perform on the album. For the first time on a Goatmoon album, there are actually three guitarists playing, with both Blackgoat and a man going by the pseudonym Raakalainen playing rhythm alongside another guy going by the name Avenger handling the lead guitar work. As previously mentioned, the guitar work on the album is fantastic riff-wise and the solos are also quite memorable. Much like the previous album, Blackgoat works a lot of melody into the riffs, making them very enjoyable to listen to. Aside from lead guitar, Avenger also handled both the drumming and keyboards on the album which are both performed very well. His drumming utilizes a lot of blast beats and double bass work that gives the album a lot of punch during the thrash-influenced parts and also keeps the overall sound of the album engaging. His keyboard work sounds great when it it utilized along side Skratt’s flutes and Stormheit’s choir work. One strange thing about the album is that the bass work, performed by Harald Mentor is actually audible throughout the majority of the album despite the harsh production. The bass work on the album, while nothing mind-blowing, sounds great and often compliments the riffs in the songs. Production-wise, the album is pretty rough and could be off putting for listeners who are new to black metal. The guitars emit quite a bit of static and the drums are sometimes hard to make out due to their raw recording quality. Blackgoat’s trademark vocals are also pretty abrasive which could also cause new listeners problems. For black metal fans, the production and vocals are exactly what you want for a raw album and, as a result, these can be seen as either positive or negative aspects of the album.
In the end, Varjot
is yet another excellent Goatmoon album that is worth the attention of anyone who is even remotely interested in this band. If you can get past raw production and the racist views that the band expresses, Varjot
is definitely worth checking out.