Goatcraft – The Blasphemer

April 12, 2014 –

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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.

Goatcraft at Anti-Christ Mass XV

December 23, 2013 –

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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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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 – All For Naught (Forbidden Records, 2013)

March 2, 2013 –

goatcraft-all_for_naughtThe proof that death metal is formed of a spirit and not random techniques can be found in the open-mindedness of death metal fans. Contrary to public perception, death metal fans are quite open to any music that shares the same spirit they find in death metal.

Unlike rock music, where the underlying music is so similar that the only distinguishing traits are surface appearances like instrumentation and rhythm, dark music is formed of phrasing and melody. It sounds evil even when played on a kazoo or acoustic ukelele. Such is the spirit that animates San Antonio, Texas’ own Goatcraft.

Goatcraft creates necroclassical music in the intersection of the dark metal spirit, epic soundtracks like Conan or Lord of the Rings, martial neofolk like Lord Wind or Winglord, and dark ambient like Elend or Arcana. If you can imagine Dead Can Dance with a focus on the darkest aspects of classical and metal, and without vocals, Goatcraft is that.

Although it seems hard to believe, Goatcraft is the work of one man (Lonegoat) who routinely hauls his keyboard to metal shows and stands alone, covered in blood and accompanied only by a clock, bashing out songs of epic isolation, loss, doubt, darkness, despair, desolation and warlike aggression.

Much like quality death metal, Goatcraft is based on the transitions between riffs and finding ways to knit riffs together in such a way that atmosphere is not sacrificed and some kind of storyline emerges. In this case, it’s a melodic line slowly evanescing from the midst of Goatcraft’s trademark cascading flurry of hammer-on style piano notes.

Like a good soundtrack, these songs manipulate mood without using a standard format. The structure of each song is adapted from the content, and so they are hard to follow at first, but once the ear adjusts and starts tracking where the melody is going, they suddenly make sense like a mystery novel’s final chapters tie up all the loose ends. Since there are no vocals, and minimal effects, the lone voice of the piano dominates.

All For Naught avoids the pitfall of trying to be populist by incorporating electronic beats or repetitive samples. It’s like a highly structured 47-minute guitar solo. Themes repeat, but in an unpredictable order that gives them added weight with each appearance. Each song has a distinct theme and structure that defines its meaning.

As a result, Goatcraft is less pop-song-format than Lord Wind or Winglord, and less ritualistic than most neofolk. It is closest to a very stripped down version of a war movie soundtrack, as even with this mild-mannered instrument a strong aura of violence and the necessity of combat emerges. This then evolves slowly into a melancholic melody which transforms itself into a narrative, leaving behind a lingering feeling of primal isolation and emptiness.

This music will not be for everyone. All For Naught shows Goatcraft expanding upon the concept that enthralled and bewildered concertgoers for the past few years, but in this more developed form, the music has greater weight and power. It’s not as easy to listen to as your average punk or groove metal album, and the challenge this album faces is finding enough people who get its trip.

All For Naught drives away the boredom and conformity that has settled into this scene over the last decade. This album is an experience unlike any other. More musical than most guitar-based albums, and with a greater amount of creative work, it is a unique experience for the listener unafraid of new methods of voicing the rare emotional ground that the best death metal explored.