Thursday, July 12, 2012

Parched With Thirst Am I And Dying - GOAT RIVER "s/t" album review

GOAT RIVER "s/t" (self release)

When it comes to the french doom scene, you have to say that it's located mostly in the northern side of the country. This, of course, can be explained by the closeness of the capital city Paris, as well as the fact that it's easier to find gigs in Doom friendly like Belgium, the UK or the Netherlands when you live not that far from their borders. Incidentally, the fact that these borders are rather easy to cross by tour bus helps a lot any band that want to play there. The southern side of France is not devoid of bands (the recently deceased and excellent band Super Timor were from Marseille), but they have difficulties in finding gigs : Italy is kinda far and have their own way of playing Doom (which, so far, hasn't taken roots in any french band), and to play in Spain you have to cross the natural bareer that are the Pyrénées mountains (leaving you with few choices apart Catalunya and spanish Basque country). No wonder then that most of the few southern french Doom bands are rather unknown outside their county, and enjoy mostly a local success. Such is the case with Goat River.
Hailing from Toulouse, a city mostly known for its long historical links with Spain and the fact that it was home to some of the bloodiest battles of the Albigensi crusade, Goat River displays a huge mix between early Sleep and the Melvins. Their brand of mostly (but not always) instrumental music is slow, brooding, suffocating and raise the heat by a good dozen of degrees. This is their first album (after a fine MCD and a split EP with Dispenser The Dispenser, another good local Stoner Rock band in the vein of Fu Manchu), and they show a good deal in term of musical maturity.
What strikes me first is the use of vocals. You have to know that Goat River used to be a strictly instrumental band before, and while this is still the main portion of this self-titled release, the use of vocals (mostly dreamy ones, not unlike something that could have been done by a band like Slowdive for example) helps a lot in setting the mood for the rest of the tracks. Goat River are indeed a pure Stoner Doom band, full of psychedelic heaviness, but they never let this psychedelia take the most part of their music. Instead, I would call their sound somewhat 'dry' : you feel litteraly your skin being parched by the desert heat, your mind being crushed by the sun. This is especially true on the 15 minutes long and very aptly named 'Weight Of Guilt', a clear showcase of the evolution Goat River have been through, and one of their best songs.
While being desperantly long, brooding and crushing, the album is never boring. The many gigs in which most of the songs here have been tested have been of tremendous help in shaping them, and that is something that can be heard on the first riff. Goat River have done well, and I advice every fan of Stoned music or of oppressive Doom to check them. Not only is the music great, the package is also awesome, as you'll get a double LP+the album in CD version for just 15 € by contacting directly the band through their bandcamp. Do it quickly, for the album is strictly limited to 150 copies.

by Laurent Lignon

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