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Goatcraft – The Blasphemer

April 12, 2014 –

goatcraft-the_blasphemer

While dark ambient provides a set of moods that metal listeners can relate to, it generally aims for simpler instrumentation than metal fans are accustomed to, and falls short of the dark yet violent atmosphere of death metal. Goatcraft merges horror movie soundtracks and dark ambient into “necroclassical,” a form of music created with a digital piano as its leading voice that creates a dense texture of melodic development underneath the soaring and expanding moods of dark ambient.

Created by the mastermind behind some of the music of After Death and other post-death metal projects, Goatcraft expands on the style of its previous work All For Naught with a greater tendency toward melodic development and more distinctive songs. This in itself is a great achievement, since solo piano is somewhat limited in that a certain number of techniques must be repeated to maintain the rhythmic clarity that fans are accustomed to from drum-commanded genres. But where All For Naught attempted to hammer out a death metal-like rhythm, on The Blasphemer Goatcraft shows greater enmeshing of the eerie melodies that could underscore a horror movie and the sustained atmospheres of the darker side of electronic music such as Danzig’s Black Aria or Dead Can Dance.

What makes Goatcraft compelling is that it ventures beyond the somewhat static loops of dark ambient and the more pop/rock-oriented music of electronica. The artist has stopped trying to translate rock and metal into a piano sound, and instead is seeking his own voice. While technique is often very similar, melodies diverge greatly which gives each song its own distinctive feel. These melodies also grow and develop beyond the circularity of most radio music which repeats everything twice and then reformulates it, developing instead more like the scenes of movie of futile and suicidal battle. To keep the level of ambiguity high, Goatcraft often develops its songs to a peak and then recapitulates its themes in a new direction before fading away, stating less rather than more and gesturing toward what exists behind the curtain of time.

The Blasphemer represents a maturation of the approach of All For Naught with new songs that take greater advantage of the musical prowess of its progenitor. In this more distinctive voice, Goatcraft is able to get beyond technique and aim more toward the crafting of melodies to fit a situation, which is why this concept album based on the paintings of William Blake stands out. If Goatcraft has a new frontier, it is to continue developing technique alongside melody to make songs even more distinct, but the band has shaped “necroclassical” into a unique and distinctive style in the process of its own growth. While much of this material sounds straight out of an occult horror movie centered in misty graveyards, the more aggressive and pummeling piano attack underscores these dark themes with a more physical presence, grafting onto them a menace that most dark keyboard music cannot provide. It will be interesting to see how this band refines itself further in the future.

GOATCRAFT began as a vision of frustration. Occult music had died a crass death, imitated into candy piece fragments of its original vision. Death metal had been absorbed by the insatiable obese monster that is rock music and had lost its spirit of tempestuous power, replaced instead by lite jazz and creeling self-pitying children. Even the rising dark ambient and neoclassical scenes seemed afloat on a river of fast food grease; sweltering in their own indirection.

With this massive failure pressing on his nerves like a forgotten shell fragment from a war long lost, GOATCRAFT’s sole member Lonegoat decided in 2010 to overcome doubts and re-double the attack. What was at first a keyboard attack to rival the sonic intensity of death metal quickly became layers of neoclassical piano centering on dark concepts, and later, with the addition of soundtrack-like dark ambient lush atmosphere, an entirely new type of music, baptized by Lonegoat himself as Necroclassical.

After the underground success of GOATCRAFT’s 2013 debut All For Naught, Lonegoat is back with its best and most mature work to date: The Blasphemer, a concept album themed around the works of the famous English painter and poet William Blake.

“Written and recorded from July to November 2013 under the influence of William Blake’s paintings and theological observations, the album represents my quest to reconcile the mystical side of GOATCRAFT with its nihilistic side.” sole-member Lonegoat explains.

Burzum announces release of The Ways of Yore on June 2, 2014

April 2, 2014 –

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Burzum, the sometimes black metal and sometimes ambient project of Norwegian-descended French national Varg Vikernes, announced the release of new album The Ways of Yore on Byelobog Productions/Plastic Head for June 2, 2014. No further information is given about whether the album will continue with the post-modern black metal style of Umskiptar or the folkish dark ambient style of Sôl austan, Mâni vestan, which was one of our “Best of 2013″.

Emerging from the same locus of intensity in Norway that produced Immortal, Mayhem, Emperor and Ildjarn, Burzum began in the early 1990s as a complex riff-narrative style of black metal with unnerving vocals that combines a feral animality with emotional sensitivity. Early works attempted to integrate elements of ambient music and create a sense of ritual designed to “stimulate the fantasy of mortals.” This era ended with Filosofem and composer Varg Vikernes being jailed for the murder of Euronymous of Mayhem.

During the incarceration years, Burzum shifted direction to full ambient with Dauði Baldrs and Hliðskjálf. These albums allowed Vikernes to escape the monolithic sound of guitar/bass/drums and work with multiple instruments, culminating in the lush creative density of Hliðskjálf (which was revisited somewhat in Sôl austan, Mâni vestan).

After prison, Burzum entered a period of post-modern black metal influenced by droning indie-pop variants of NSBM such as Drudkh and other Eastern European bands. This music reflected pop song structures, a shoegaze-style approach to melody but with the longer phrasing — albeit recursive — of black metal like early Ancient, and extensive use of North mythology. It is unclear whether this period continues now with folkish dark ambient album Sôl austan, Mâni vestan in 2013 being a temporary detour, or whether Vikernes will launch Burzum into a fourth period with the more complex instrumentation and hence compositional density of that album and Hliðskjálf.

Khand – The Fires of Celestial Ardour released on tape

January 31, 2014 –

khand-the-fires-of-celestial-ardour

The crossover between metal and keyboard music is vast and well-documented to the point that the well-dressed death metal site simply ignores instrumentation and picks the keyboard bands that sound as evil and nihilistic as death metal. Whether that’s works by Neptune Towers, Beherit, Jaaportit, Goatcraft, Burzum or Danzig, evil metal has crossed over to occult keyboards.

Another entry into this world is Khand, made by lifelong metalhead and now synthesizer jockey Arillius. Describing his music as “cosmic ambient,” which overlaps with black ambient and dark ambient and neoclassical, Arillius started Khand back in 1998. Influenced by medieval, space and fantasy themes, Khand’s demo “Interstellar Dominions” was released in 2006 and immediately attracted an unusual but dedicated audience. Seven years later, Khand released The Fires of Celestial Ardour which is now available on tape for those who wish to order it.

The Fires of Celestial Ardour shows Khand having refined its style and narrowed its focus, which enables the band to train its resources on a certain type of deep space exploration sound. For those who want to experiment, the album is available as a free download from hi.arc.tow records.

Goatcraft at Anti-Christ Mass XV

December 23, 2013 –

goatcraft-antichristmas

The end of the year is the worst time to get anything done because every hour of the day is spoken for by six different needs at a bare minimum. We’re all trying to beat the deadline of the holidays themselves, because once Santa and/or baby Jesus appear, nothing is going to get done but the mass consumption of holiday food, alcohol and other happy oblivion. Thus it was that I arrived late to Anti-Christmass XV, the fifteenth incarnation of Houston’s long-running blasphemous end of year metal festival.

Produced by Luis & Jess Carlos of The Adversary Productions, Anti-Christ Mass XV is like all of their shows: organized, dedicated and friendly to local talent. Some would criticize it for that latter tendency, saying that it’s foolishness to give Panteon, Satanical Torment, Avaris, Behelit and Church ov Melkarth the stage when larger bands might be induced to show up. However, the point is in part to support the local scene by reducing its inbred nature by showing these bands off head-to-head, making it clear who’s rising and who’s stagnant.

Owing to the aforementioned end-of-year mania, this reviewer arrived late in time to catch headlining act Goatcraft, who took to the stage at 1 a.m. in a swirl of cigarette smoke. The stage, covered in an elegant carpet and adorned with framed sigils and occult sayings, seemed isolated with only one 6’5″ musician and his gigantic KORG TritonTM electronic keyboard. Coated in stage blood from head to foot, Lonegoat began playing without saying a word.

For those unfamiliar with the project, Goatcraft is “necroclassical” which is a neoclassical version of the dark ambient keyboard music that became popular after black metal. The difference in the Goatcraft approach is that the band emulates the negative and ambiguous feel of metal but tries to translate it to keyboards, both through mood/melody and use of a hammer-intense technique that blasts chromatic fills underneath chord progressions to create a sense of sonic space imploding with shattering rage. Goatcraft‘s second album, The Blasphemer, will be available from I, Voidhanger records on February 3, 2014; currently, you can purchase the CD verson of Goatcraft‘s first album, All For Naught, for $6.66 at Forbidden Records.

Lonegoat played a fifty-minute uninterrupted set that combined themes from the first two Goatcraft albums with a heavy degree of intense showmanship and sonic manipulation that is closer to what a noise band like Zeni Geva or an electro-acoustic act would do. The hammering technique utilizes the sonic properties of not just the keyboard but the hall itself because so many notes in rapid succession create an echo effect that produces a wave of sound sweeping over the listener. Sitting and sometimes standing, the demoniacal musician played the crowd by sweeping from high notes to low, from quiet to loud, and from the elegant melodies that comprise the inner core of his works to the pounding near-chaos that obliterates all other thoughts from its listeners minds.

Periodically he would raise an empty cup, sending fans racing to the bar for libations to fulfill the Dionysian ritual. Part self-destructive black metal, part a death metal-fueled appreciation for the destructive power of noise, and somewhat the showmanship of a Liberace or Horowitz in knowing how to introduce drama to music, the Goatcraft performance kept a rather cynical and totally exhausted audience entranced until on the eve of two the bar shutdown and so did the club. Anti-Christ Mass XV ended in a wash of reverbed piano notes thundering through the mid-sized hall, creating a turbulent barrage of noise from which the naturalistic melodies of Goatcraft emerged.

As part of being the only metal festival to take place in a club with a Koi pond and chill-out loft, Anti-Christ Mass needed to culminate in some form of apocalyptic weirdness like Goatcraft, and the deconstructive waves of keyboard angst fulfilled this mandate and sent people charged and baffled into the night. In a metal scene that is afflicted by the entropy of not having had any game-changing ideas for 18 years, Goatcraft represents a much-needed prod to remind us that imitating the past alone is not a path to victory. With this energetic and spirited performance, Goatcraft continues to develop a new audience for a style of music that, having emerged from and commenting on metal, will surely help metal to develop further much as bands like Dead Can Dance spurred on the last few evolutionary steps.

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Interview with MM of Emit/Hammemit

November 13, 2013 –

mm-emit-hammemitSome years have passed since Emit was first featured in these pages, but the UK dark ambient/noise/black metal-influenced project returns in the coming year with the newest edition of its most recent work.

MM, the creator of Emit and Hammemit, took the time to answer a few of our questions. Not only is he an underground musician, but he is also a zine publisher, having produced three issues of the Anti-Art Manifesto zine during the later years of underground black metal.

Emit claims influence from a number of sources, including its constitutent genres of black metal, dark ambient, electro-acoustic music and noise. However, there are extra-musical influences as well, such as a rumored connection to the Order of Nine Angles and other mystical groups.

As metal seeks new influences and directions in which it can go without losing its essential metal-ness, it makes sense to observe how others are navigating paths through the chaos. Thus we are very proud to present an interview with MM of Emit/Hammemit.

So… Emit’s back. What made you decide to resurrect this project?

Typically, Emit resurrected itself because it began to irritatingly manifest unbidden within recording sessions for Hammemit. Rather than contaminate the pure spring waters of my youngest son with the angry attentions of the estranged eldest, something had to be done with it. They are of the same blood, but are of different temperaments. I now create music as Dr. Jekyll might.

What have you been doing in the intervening years between Emit’s cessation and resurrection? Do you view these as similar activities in spirit, even if not in sound?

emit-logo

Well, there is Hammemit. To inaccurately quote myself from an unpublished interview: in varying shades of subtly dark sound I have raised again to their former use and gestalt such structures of worship and diligent study as may currently be found ruined or in state of repair within a certain radius of my guitar, in spectral form. These existing in an ancient realm quite recently known as England that I understand from books and hearsay actually once existed and is become resurrect via such musics as mine own. It is the spirit of a dead realm I still sadly bear living memory to.

Of course they are similar in spirit as I speak with one voice, searching for the ultimate expression, faltering with words yet more fluent in music to express the mysteries I am bound to darkly perceive yet struggle to grasp since earliest memory.

What motivates you to make music? Is there a philosophy to your life?

The motivation is a sudden urgent and painful desire to attempt a capturing of the essence of mysterious elements of existence, because mere words fail me as already explained. Music fails me too, but comes closer to describing that experienced than any other medium I might think of using for such means.

My most fervent hope is to capture perfectly, like ancient insect in amber, this unexplainable inexplicable. I perhaps came closest to doing so with a Hammemit piece called “The Trod of the Darklie Faye,” but yet still remains so distant from the core of the thing.

If there is a philosophy to my life it would surely be the cause of many a smile in the Greek underworld, in the unlikely event they bothered to peer up from their dice games to take notice.

Your CD is coming out on Crucial Blast Records in 2014. Can you tell us what the new Emit will be like? What’s the title?

It has already been available on cassette from a label called Glorious North, originally a demo. However, such is its apparent accomplishment that it deserves releasing again with full album status, expanded tastefully where necessary (I mean no bonus tracks).

mm-ikon-777-emitThe title is not quite borrowed from a compendium of M.R. James short stories, Spectre Music of an Antiquary. The cover (for the CD) is a photographically recorded arrangement of what “might” be called necrotic artifacts, of varying degrees of relevance to the music in question. Items with history and spectres of their own tied to them. In any case, not just some accidental collection of random rubbish as can often be seen elsewhere on album covers belonging to profane Public House crawling musicians with time and nothing else to kill.

It is musically comprised of bio-mechanically haunted vignettes, with a subtle 1980s film soundtrack aftertaste.

How do you think the metal community has changed between the last Emit and the next?

My connection to and interaction with any kind of music community or movement was always minimal. This not being by choice and I sometimes in the past regretted that fact. However I realise now in the light of maturity I was happier that way. I remain a writer of letters (and emails), mostly to people I have known a long while. Most of these people, if not all, bear the same opinion as myself, namely that there is little that such a community can offer people like us and increasingly so. The majority of those comprising these communities have no spirit or panache and wish for acceptance.

What’s next for Emit, and for you as a musician, after this album? Tour? More recordings?

A tour is unlikely to say the least. But some more live examples should be made where possible. More recordings are not out of the question, but only if there be a violent urge to do so. I never record anything for the sake of making a “new” recording. Especially as everything I have ever committed to tape (or .WAV file nowadays) has already been given birth in some form or other many hundred years previous. Even if it took the shape of a church or priest hole rather than unpopular song.

Goatcraft to play Housecore Horror Film Festival on October 24, 2013

September 28, 2013 –

housecore_horror_film_festivalRenowned underground neoclassical dark ambient band Goatcraft will take to the stage during the Housecore Horror Film Festival on October 24, 2013 in Austin, Texas. The one-man sonic assault features morbid horror movie soundtracks played as if they were death metal played on piano.

Goatcraft singular musician Lonegoat released his first full-length, All For Naught earlier this year to confusion and bafflement by most metal fans but critical acclaim. Since that time, Goatcraft has been making more fans as people come to understand the approach and value of this bizarre and violent but soothing music.

Performing covered head-to-toe in blood, Lonegoat improvises based on themes from the album and produces lengthy compositions that are conceptually linked in motif and rhythm. At the Housecore Horror Film Festival, the latest venture by ex-Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo, Goatcraft will be on the morbid side of a mostly more radio-friendly lineup.

Goatcraft is gearing up for the 2014 release of The Blasphemer, a full-length album due for release on I, Voidhanger Records based on the concepts and graphic imagery of 18th century poet William Blake. See also our review of the Goatcraft demo and a Goatcraft interview.

Sponsored by Scion A/V, who are the people who make urban combat vehicles, the festival promises to be a whirlwind of mayhem with bands like Gwar and Goatwhore leading the lineup. For more information on the Goatcraft performance, visit the Goatcraft live page.

Goatcraft Interview

What’s GOATCRAFT aiming for by playing the Housecore Horror Film Festival?

Goatcraft was offered to play this festival after one of the organizers, Corey Mitchell, saw one of my shows. Horror movies and soundtracks are very metal and have been a source of inspiration for countless metal bands. I think that Goatcraft will both shock and please the festival goers, as well as showcase how dark and violent piano music breaches all realms.

Can you tell us a bit about the Housecore Horror Film Festival?

Housecore Horror Film Festival is a three day festival consisting of enough horror films to desensitize even the most moral of people. Its goal is to merge horror flicks and metal under one exposition. I hope that they turn it into an annual festival after this one proves to be successful. Austin needs more blood and guts to ward off the hipsters.

How do you feel about being sponsored by Scion?

I’m personally not sponsored by Scion, but they were recently announced by the festival to be one of the main sponsors. This is my assumption, being that I am not involved in the organization of the fest at all other than being informed about the music portion and my role in it. To each their own. I’m sure that having a big company sponsor something is important for commercial success, which they want this festival to be very large.

What’s next for GOATCRAFT?

I’m in talks with others about more shows, as well as another performance on-air at a radio station. In between shows there has been effort in finishing the next album that will be out on I, Voidhanger Records in Italy. Luciano, the label owner, has a very strong grasp on art and dark music, which we’re both on the same page about the release.

Do you think neoclassical/necroclassical is expanding?

There have been countless people that have confronted me about Goatcraft here in Texas. I think that metalheads tend to be open-minded about dark music as long as it shares the same spirit as metal. I showed Vader and Vital Remains some of my new material a couple of days ago after they played San Antonio. There was nothing negative said and they seemed to like it.

Thanks Brett for taking the time to inquire about Goatcraft. All the best.


Housecore Horror Film Festival
gc live 2

  • Gwar
  • Repulsion
  • Down
  • Goblin
  • Crowbar
  • Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals
  • Eyehategod
  • Pig Destroyer
  • Hate Eternal
  • Goatwhore
  • Whitechapel
  • Pallbearer
  • Warbeast (ex-Rigor Mortis)
  • Skrew
  • Iron Reagan
  • Ancient Vvisdom
  • Bloody Hammers
  • Primitive Weapons
  • Star & Dagger
  • First Jason
  • Chris Vrenna
  • A Band of Orcs
  • Lord Dying
  • Hymns
  • White Widows Pact
  • Child Bite
  • Blackqueen
  • Goatcraft
  • Honky
  • The Black Moriah (ex-Absu)
  • Cavalcade
  • Death Will Tremble
  • Headcrusher
  • Dead Earth Politics

Emo’s/Antone’s/Dirty Dog
2015 E Riverside Dr. / 505 East 6th St.
Austin, TX
October 24-27, 2013

Eric Syre: Unlife – Ossuary and Unlife – Unlife

September 11, 2013 –

eric_syre-unlifeEric Syre, a musician from French Canada, is best known perhaps for his work with TheSyre or Pohjast. However, he lives a double life. He is also an industrial/ambient musician recording under the name Unlife.

Unlife comes in two flavors. The first is a more Ministry-influenced version, while the second is almost pure Beherit Electric Doom Synthesis worship. For this reviewer, the first was actually the more intense because it is near completion as a unity of aesthetic and content. The newer material struggles with a bit of self-definition and because of this loss of familiarity, is more awkward but nonetheless compelling.

Ossuary (2005) uses guitars and vocals in a more traditional industrial-metal hybrid atmosphere and shows an influence not only of Ministry, but the generation before (Killing Joke) and lighter influence from the generation after (Godflesh). Songs emphasize heavy, mechanical beats over which Syre loosens up his pipes to give a melodic underpinning to what is otherwise purely “industrial” in the old sense, meaning it sounds like a cross between a factory and a war set to post-punk music.

Unlife (2007) on the other hand is all electronic. There is no attempt to fit songs into a traditional rock framework or imitation of its instrumentation, and cut free, the music experiments a great deal more with song form and texture. Clearly the largest influence here is Electric Doom Synthesis, which also gets alluded to if not outright quoted in a few of the songs, but this is in loving tribute and not some attempt to ride coattails. This longer work seems too simple at first, but suspends belief over time, and introduces a ritual trance mindset in the listener.

It’s our hope here at DeathMetal.org that Mr. Syre continues to develop these projects or at least the direction he was pursuing with both of these releases. His work on Ossuary more captures the power of his singing and sense of dynamics than TheSyre was able to, and Unlife shows us the potential of his composition as a viral stream of ideas alone.

Goatcraft – The Blasphemer and live radio appearance

September 5, 2013 –

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Sole Goatcraft musician Lonegoat has taken to San Antonio’s KSYM 90.1 radio to do an hourlong interview and announce the new album, The Blasphemer, which Goatcraft will release in the first quarter of 2014.

The Blasphemer will be themed around the work of English theologian and poet William Blake and will be released by I, Voidhanger records. Lonegoat describes it as “a bridge between esoteric art and music.”

We are fortunate to be able to present a preview of the track “The House of Death,” based on the William Blake painting of the same name, from The Blasphemer.

Goatcraft – “The House of Death” from The Blasphemer

Now that the live broadcast is completed, it’s possible to hear the podcast as it was broadcast live. It’s in two segments, an improvisational necroclassical session and an interview Lonegoat, the singular force behind Goatcraft.

Goatcraft – Live Improvisational Necroclassical


Goatcraft – Live Radio Interview

Goatcraft launches new video for “Infinite Death” from All For Naught

May 22, 2013 –

goatcraft-all_for_naughtTexas-based neofolk phenomenon Goatcraft, who use piano sounds to reproduce the hammering chromatic attack of death metal, have released a new video for the song “Infinite Death” from this year’s album All For Naught. Coming from musicians who worked with post-Nocturnus project After Death as well as other Tampa-style death metal, Goatcraft is a new approach to a familiar goal.

Using only a single digital piano, Goatcraft soundscribe Lonegoat creates impromptus from simple themes to which he adds layers of complexity, producing miniature operatic soundtracks that allude to the chromatic phrasal riffing and explosive hammering of early death metal. All For Naught, the project’s first album, resounds with a resistance to the standard “keyboard music” tropes that make otherwise independent projects into clones.

All For Naught was released this year on Forbidden Records and contains a full album worth of distinctive material including reworkings of past Goatcraft songs. So far, it has made entrance into metal, industrial, neofolk and horror movie soundtrack-loving communities, and hopes to expand that reach with this more professional video that reveals some of its inner concept.

Last Burzum metal recording ever

April 27, 2013 –

burzumBurzum composer Varg Vikernes has posted a “goodbye” to his old self as a metal composer and in a sentimental posting, announced his retirement from metal and his intent to pursue ambient music alone.

Burzum appeared from nowhere in 1991 with a demo tape made up of a dozen guitars-and-bass-only tracks in rehearsal quality. I made a few more or less successful metal albums, but they all always included at least some ambient music. With time I moved further and further away from metal, and today only the ambient music remains. Today (2013) I think I am done playing metal music for good.

Many of you followed Burzum through the years, some even from the beginning, and I think metal-Burzum deserves a proper “good bye”. So, just like I started out I will finish metal-Burzum with a guitars-and-bass-only track in rehearsal quality. “Back to the Shadows” is made up of the last metal riffs I ever made (in 2012). It was never released in any way, or recorded (beyond what you hear here), and it will not either — beyond this short “video”.

Take it for what it is; a sentimental good bye to metal-Burzum.

The music is playing with an image of the 17 year-old me, taken from the time when some of the first Burzum tracks were made. You can see this track as a good bye to that fellow too.

For those of us who have been watching Burzum and Vikernes over the years, this is a welcome development. Heavy metal is beautiful but it will always be attached to popular conceptions of entertainment. Ambient music, especially complex material, gets treated as culture.

While we hope to change that perception of metal and to have it be studied as art and part of culture, that’s an uphill battle when the fans routinely rush to gimmick bands and depthless clones in a hope to be part of the next popular trend.

Either way, this bodes well for more interesting compositions in Burzum’s future.