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[20th March 2013]
[Forbidden Records]

01. Call Me Judas
02. Infinite Death
03. Journey to the Depths
04. Goats Will Riot
05. Gate I
06. Isolation Ripens
07.Vestibule to the Abyss
08. Laconism of the Cosmos
09. Gate II
10.Everything Will Die
11. The Rape of Europa
12. Consciousness is a Disease

Goatcraft are an interesting project. For all intents and purposes, this one man project is not metal (at least not in the strictest sense of the genre), but the tone and atmosphere, as well as the vision that main man Lonegoat has for the music, easily qualify. This Texas based project is referred to as “neoclassical oppressive piano instrumental”, which is about as close a description as you can get. Dark, ambient and gothic neoclassical are huge parts of the compositional direction of this record; Goatcraft’s debut album All For Naught is a challenging, grandiose, dark and complex work.

It is a challenge in itself to review this album, as it’s not traditional in any sense of the word. There is only one instrument – a grand piano loaded with reverb – which is a massive shift from what we usually cover at The Monolith. The overall atmosphere of the album is fantastic, creating a towering darkness, like the entrance hall of a long-abandoned gothic castle. The occasional sample of howling wind adds a bit more texture to that oppressive nature of the release, but strangely, the music seems to be panned slightly to the right channel. The only explanation I can think of for this is it sounds more like one is listening to a man play the piano in the corner of the hall. It certainly would be that way if it actually took place in a grand hallway setting.

Once in a blood red moon, Lonegoat makes use of ambient synths. They move out from behind the shadowy cloak of the piano sometimes to mimic a ghostly howl or even just provide a boost to the eerie and off kilter atmosphere. However, they do come to the forefront on two tracks, “Gate I”, and “Gate II”, which are interlude tracks that dive briefly into a strange other world. The album contains nothing in the way of percussion, guitar, or vocals, which is good because the way the music is composed, either of those would completely ruin the sense of creeping dread invoked by the sounds presented.

Compositionally, this is metal music stripped right down to its most basic atmospheric aesthetics. It is lachrymose, melodramatic, doomy, and complex. Each song progresses through several themes, each one carrying the mood in a different way. Some might be more hurried and desperate, while others simply let the listener experience madness and shadows while standing still. The one issue is that the compositions tend to bleed together so that it is hard to mark the divisions between separate tracks. On the surface that is an excellent way to keep the intended sepulchral atmosphere flowing without any disruption, but digging deeper, it also means the listener can easily let the music just flow in one ear and out the other without truly comprehending it – and there is a lot here to process. It is an oppressive, stripped back-yet still complex, cry against human nature, speaking for the primal darkness that lurks in all of our hearts.

All For Naught is a gate to emotions long locked up within our souls: a vessel for the most marginalized parts of human nature; the wild chaotic bleakness. It is our long forgotten but still latent fear of the unknown and the supernatural. It is not for everyone, nor is it a masterpiece. It can be boring in places on the album, but when one lets the music fill one’s soul, one will experience a truly different journey.


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