Thursday, July 20, 2017

Goatmoon - "Stella Polaris" (Werewolf Records, 2017)

Band: Goatmoon
Title: Stella Polaris
Genre: Folk/Black Metal
Year: 24th February 2017
Time: 35 min
Rating: 80/100

After Barathrum, 2017 marks the return with a new album of another great Finnish band: Goatmoon. Born in 2002, this band is, in practice, the solo-project of BlackGoat Gravedesecrator that was included by the Italians Davide Maspero and Max Ribaric into their "Wolves Among Sheep", the excellent and monumental essay about NSBM released in 2013. Well, Goatmoon have become now a more mature and, in a certain sense, refined entity if compared with their very raw early works, and this 5th album called "Stella Polaris" is examplary of what I say. It was released, as always since the debut album of Goatmoon "Death Before Dishonour", by Werewolf Records, which is, as you know, the label of Werwolf of Satanic Warmaster whose productions were now distributed even by the very known Hells Headbangers Records.

"Stella Polaris" is an album particular in certain ways because, yes, it's black metal as the tradition wants but, as first thing, it shows strong folk elements as expressed yet into a simple "Intro" where there are an acoustic guitar and a flute, with this last instrument that is integrated also in the black metal parts since the very first song that's the same titletrack. Then, there are here and there some clear heavy metal influences useful to emphasize greatly the engaging epic and heroic atmosphere of songs like the same "Stella Polaris" and the instrumental "Sonderkommando Nord", also if this one is, in my opinion, the more weak number because of it repeat the same things throughout its lenght without really developing them.
Now, there is need to say that the tracklist is well balanced. This because there are songs full of a strongly melodic riffing like "Kansojen hävittäjä" (known as "Rock the Nations" into the CD version of the album) or "Stella Polaris", that's one of my favorite numbers also thanks to its conclusive heavy metal part in mid-tempo where there is a fantastic guitar solo very unexpected for an album of this kind! Then, expect some more evil episodes represented at best by "Wolf Night", a short crude and merciless outburst but made a bit melodic with an evocative passage due especially to the lead guitar. Curiously, I noted that the Side B of the album presents both the melodic and crude parts also into a single song in order to offer good atmosphere changes like in "Conqueror" (very imaginative rhytmically considering that it range from tempestouos blast-beats to doom tempos with macabre keyboards) and "Overlord". In brief, it is like if the album become more evil and crude with every passing number so to go a bit beyond the epic atmosphere of the Side A.

But, for the truth, the tracklist has really everything: in fact, said about the intro, said about the outburst called "Wolf Night" and said about the instrumental "Sonderkommando Nord", I have still to say about...the ballad! Yes, a ballad, you read very well! I am talking about "Palavien ali-ihmisten löyhkä", very surprising because it reveals every melodic potential of Goatmoon presenting also a fantastic guitar solo and where BlackGoat abandon completely his usual feral screams to experiment a raucous and clean voice à la Bathory of the Viking-era. I said to you that "Stella Polaris" was an album "particular in certain ways" least, for the pages of this 'zine!
Speaking about the session musicians that helped BlackGoat to record "Stella Polaris" between July and October 2015, they are: the keyboarder M.V., the drummer/guitarist Avenger (now in Uskonrauha but with a past with Barathrum and White Death, that is a young band debuting this year just with Werewolf Records), the bass player Stormheit (that, known for his viking band with the same name, has offered his voice for the narrative parts of the titletrack), the flautist Skratt (even Horna ex-member) and the lead guitarist Sacarth. I have to note that Sacarth is the only session musician that isn't into the live line-up of Goatmoon.

So, "Stella Polaris" is an excellent album able even to move the listeners thanks to a traditional black metal full of a warrior-like atmosphere and strong of numerous folk parts and some heavy metal influences. Unfortunately, it's a shame for "Sonderkommando Nord" while I think there were need to play more guitar solos along the lines of the titletrack especially to create a better climax for a song like "Conqueror". But, said this, I consider as genuine pearls of the Goatmoon art episodes like "Stella Polaris", "Rock the Nations" (or as you want to call it) and "Overlord".

1 - Intro
2 - Stella Polaris
3 - Rock the Nations (known also as Kansojen hävittäjä)
4 - Wolf Night
5 - Sonderkommando Nord
6 - Warrior
7 - Conqueror
8 - Overlord
9 - Palavien ali-ihmisten löyhkä


BlackGoat Gravedesecrator - vocals

Session musicians:

Avenger - guitars (lead, acoustics)/drums/percussions
Sacarth - guitars (lead)
Stormheit - bass/vocals (recitations)
M.V. - keyboards
Skratt - whistle/flute

Werewolf Records:
Hells Headbangers Records:

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