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Goya's demo album cover


[4th September, 2012]

01. God Lie
02. Blackfire
03. Mourning Sun
04. Opoponax
05. Night Creeps

The word ‘demo’ can be misleading sometimes in its ambiguity, and attaches a form of child-like pride to a piece of work: “Look guys, look what I can do!”. It is, at its heart, a demonstration of the capabilities of a person or group; albeit in an incomplete form. In musical terms, it presents a manifesto of their intentions, their stylistic tendencies and, naturally, how good they are at that point in time. Some demos surpass the lower quality and unfinished nature that the name “demo” infers. One of these such demos is that of Goya, a stoner metal band from Phoenix, AZ, who formed in April this year and have committed five tracks to tape. Their intentions on their Facebook page are succinctly listed as “420 666”, translating to marijuana and devil worship, and musical leanings suggest a broad pallet of styles incorporating psychedelia and black metal into a decidedly fuzz-filled stoner sound.

Goya allot themselves over half an hour to bring across their message, and so afford a slow build-up on opener “God Lie”. The riffs are rumbling and unnerving, with blackened overtones in the tremolo that enters as the track picks up, and the bass/drum combination work tightly together. Soon vocals arrive, in a very distant hazy manner not unlike Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard) or John Baizley (Baroness), and the repeated refrain of “I wanna watch you die” sticks easily in the brain. Wah-wah pedal abuse and feedback characterizes the solo section, and an agonizingly-teased riff at the end rounds off the track strongly.

This being stoner metal, Jeff Owens’ riff department is one of the strongest, particularly the intro of “Blackfire”, which has a lot more pace than the previous track, while the band spout pseudo-black metal lines such as “So fuck your god, swallow your faith”. “Mourning Sun” follows in a similar vein, showcasing an excellent sense of production where nothing is buried, yet nothing is distractingly loud. The guitars have the necessary fuzz and crunch, and the drums sound full and not simply floating in cymbals. In the instrumental “Opoponax” (a plant from which some incense is derived), the band find their groove amidst a wave of reverb-drenched riffs and atonal melodies. By the time this track arrives, the listener has been primed, and so it has a more potent effect than an earlier spot might have.

Finally, “Night Creeps”: an eleven-minute journey that continues in a more sinister direction from where “Opoponax” leaves off. A simple Sabbathian riff starts the song off as the song gains intensity and Jeff wails “Forever dead, forever stoned”. For some unknown reason, Peter Steele (Type-O Negative) comes to mind due to the more gothic-styled vocals, although sans influence from the rest of the band.

Joe Asselin’s bass is on fine form, adding the necessary heavy low-end that characterizes this genre. The track then turns chaotic yet doom-paced plodding at the same time, a confusing yet effective dichotomy that slowly fades into obscurity and overdriven feedback.

Goya give no indication as to whether their name is taken from the Spanish painter, whose “Yard With Lunatics” and “The Madhouse” paintings are appropriately as sinister and dark as the music on this demo. What the listener is left with, however, is a sense of completion when the thirty-seven minutes are over, and of curiosity as to where the band will go next in their material. Goya’s demo exceeds the boundaries of a demo, and while it may not be fully polished album material, the tracks stand the band in good stead for a follow-up that is just as dark and stoned as this one is.

You can stream/download the demo over on their Bandcamp page.