Goatcraft - _All for Naught_ / _The Blasphemer_
(Forbidden Records / I, Voidhanger, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
I'm probably not the guy you want reviewing an album of solo classical piano. I played piano for a few of my early adolescent years, under the tutelage of an unforgiving old woman who convinced me I had no particular talent and no discernibly advancing skill. Mmm, childhood bitterness. Anyway. I don't particularly know what distinguishes well played classical piano from poorly played classical piano, though I gather that there should be some clarity of note and chord selection and probably nothing should sound like a meaty farmer's elbow sliding down the ivories.

Goatcraft is the piano-based project of a Texan who calls himself Lonegoat and calls his music "necroclassical." Classy. The style is reportedly inspired by the old-school death metal delivered by all the oft-cited -tions (Immolation, Incantation, et ceteration), but is presented as a grand new elixir to reinvigorate a saturated, muddied genre. You should have, by this point in the review, counted off a half-dozen reasons why this probably won't work, which we should dispense with now before talking about how it absolutely, world-widenly does.

Yes, there are creepy synth sound effects occasionally throughout the recordings. The key word there is "occasionally." Lonegoat refuses to lean on spooky atmospheric nonsense to sell his work to the slavering metal hordes. The bits of creepy ambiance that float around several of these pieces add dimensionality to the work, but Lonegoat never tries to hang a song's rationale onto them. Mostly the value of the material lies in heavily emotional songwriting and virtuosic playing that never gets ahead of itself. Are you thinking that death metal-inspired piano probably entails a dude slamming away at the low end of the keyboard and cause a percussive ruckus everywhere else? Fleeting moments of that style certainly exist, but the grandeur of Goatcraft lies in the cold, remote melodies that overlap with harmonic counterpoint and gorgeously cavernous bass notes. The cat -- um, goat -- can play, and he deserves high acclaim for bringing his ten-fingered talents, so raw and unmasked by other instrumentation, to Satan's mighty feast.

Within recent months, Goatcraft has produced both _All for Naught_ through Forbidden Records and _The Blasphemer_ through I, Voidhanger. As to the differences between the two recordings... Well, you don't really need me to tell you, since both albums can be experienced on Bandcamp, and if you're captivated by the description above then you should get your ears over there ASAP. _The Blasphemer_ certainly feels more refined and perhaps more baroquely theatrical in its composition and overall presentation. _All for Naught_ thunders manically beneath its cover drawing of a stolid goat contemplating the moonlit mountain peaks. _The Blasphemer_ weaves a more considered drama, with more focus on melodies in the treble clef and maybe a deeper appreciation for the momentous inclusion of ringing notes amid the washes of windy atmosphere.

You probably didn't type our web address into your browser hoping to hear about a pair of powerful piano-driven albums. In fact, it probably rates up there with your interest in a capella power metal and brass quartet black metal. But Goatcraft is excellent, and should get your respect if not your frequent attention.

Contact: http://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-blasphemer

(article published 7/7/2014)

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