Having been impressed initially and even more so since our review of All For Naught the debut album from Goatcraft, it is fair to say there was certain anticipation for its successor The Blasphemer. The new release emerges as again a potent fire of craft and expression which even more so than its predecessor improves and permeates imagination and passions over time as the artist takes the passions through an extraordinary provocative landscape. The fourteen track scenery of self-termed necroclassical sound is an enthralling and absorbing spark for thoughts and emotions, a slab of beauty which is leaps ahead of the rather good first Goatcraft release and an unveiling of maturity and a fully rounded narrative which is quite breath-taking.
Goatcraft is the one man project of San Antonio based Lonegoat, a composer/musician who created the project in 2010 to answer and use the frustration the artist had with occult and death metal, its commercialism and loss of soul for want of a better word. Piano and keyboard driven, his unique sound and presence was soon sparking intrigue and attention live and most potently with the release of All For Naught. Released via Forbidden Records, the album was an elegant and intensive tempest of passion and creativity within an intrusive and captivating ambience which aligned shadows to emotional investigations. The Blasphemer is bred from the same bed of seeds but with a much more evolved, grown, and complete incitement. Whereas the earlier release was a collection of individual tracks which did lie well together, Lonegoat’s sophomore album plays like one immersive journey with each piece a chapter in the wide narrative of the release. Equally the tracks work as smaller investigations alone too, each experimenting within the cinematic atmospheres emerging from the pieces of music.
As mentioned there is also a richer beauty to the I, Voidhanger Records released The Blasphemer, something All For Naught was not lacking but like everything, upon the new album it has risen with new resourcefulness to seduce and pull the imagination into dark corners and blackened reflections. A concept album, The Blasphemer is themed around the works of English painter and poet William Blake, each piece taking inspiration and hues from his compositions aligned to theological observations. A quote from Lonegoat describes the release as being “Written and recorded from July to November 2013 under the influence of William Blake’s paintings and, The Blasphemer represents my quest to reconcile the mystical side of GOATCRAFT with its nihilistic side.“
From the invasive and brooding orchestral breath of Intro: Behemoth, the album explores and invites the imagination with every ounce of its creative and intensive expression. Temptation And Fall is the first full encounter on the album, a track which instantly envelops the psyche in its gentle shadows whilst punctuating that slow consumption with a poignant and dramatic piano evocation, its notes and melodic punches almost stalking the senses as it presses thoughts and visions into action. The following House Of Death is borne from a similar dark empathy, an instant indication that you can take songs singularly or as an extended tale to equal but different effect. Though as mentioned William Blake has inspired the release, it is hard not to involve imagery in the mind which is Poe-esque and noir kissed, all embracing melancholic and sinister gothic shadows.
The excellent intimidating title track, with a slight discord glaze to its evocation, ripples and rifles the imagination next before both Hecate and Nebuchadnezzar challenge and seduce. The first has a cloak of darkness which is almost smoggy from where a Victorian landscape escapes and adds its own disturbed beauty whilst its successor flirts with high drama and stage bred emotiveness whilst again guiding the listener on a classically sculpted venture of shadowed elegance and erosive passion.
Each track presents its own unique canvas but like a triptych squared, all slot into an emotive painting of sound and subsequent visualisation by its recipients mind as potently shown by the engrossing In The Arms Of Pity. The four parts of The Great Red Dragon though is a real version of that three pictured union, a symphony dedicated to Blake’s series of watercolours with the same title. It is a masterpiece all on its own, a haunting enlightenment which traps and embraces the imagination as potently and innovatively as their inspirations, and if you can study the paintings whilst listening to the movements all the better as they definitely inspire further side by side.
The album closes around the senses and in presence with firstly the almost meditatively suffocating Eternal Prayer Of Urizen followed by the dark tonal exploration and emotions of Satan In His Original Glory, a piece like the rest which breathes torment and despair whilst bewitching ears and emotions. Finally Lonegoat brings the unique experience to closure with the brief Outro: Leviathan, a caress of music which plays like an epilogue to the shadows and dark dramas before.
The Blasphemer is an exceptional encounter which cannot be assessed or examined in a mere handful of listens. Like a painting, the album offers something new and provocative with every flight through its dark atmospheres and almost erosive deep emotional textures. Majestic and threatening, it is an album of the year contender.
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