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Like Soulside Journey Darkthrone's Goatlord is an album i had sitting around, though unlike Soulside Journey the dust it gathered had good reason behind it. Goatlord isn't an album as much as it is an official release of previously unreleased material during Darkthrone's death metal era in their timeline. Goatlord was originally planned to be Darkthrone's sophomore release under the Peaceville record label before the band got to know Euronymous and changed their sound to cold, raw, harsh black metal and released their classic "A Blaze in the Northern Sky."
Goatlord is definitely an underrated album. It's the type of album that generally on first impressions seems like it will be a complete flop, but on the contrary there were some good ideas on this record, though unfortunately they were poorly executed. It's common knowledge by now with anyone reading reviews to this album that Goatlord was not much more than a rehearsal tape made during the early 90s with the vocals added later on. It isn't. The production is a clear indication of that. It's just what you'd expect listening to an early 90s death metal demo tape, or any rehearsal tape from most bands, however in some parts it actually gives more to the recording than takes away. Could this album have been better if they went and re-recorded it professionally? Absolutely, and honestly if they had done so I'd probably be more inclined to boost my rating of this album in that case.
The instrumentation itself on this album is definitely noteworthy. What you have here is very solid 90s death metal, and a good direction from their soulside journey album in terms of the actual musicianship. The guitar playing is near flawless and Fenriz's drumming is more than a metronome like with Darkthrone's black metal era recordings, and even a step up from his playing on the soulside journey album which admittedly was lacking in some places. His fills and timing were very good, even on a rehearsal recording like that.
However where does this album lack? The vocal work. Recorded later on, this almost kills the entire album as a whole. Nocturno Cultos vocals are very out of place, poorly mixed with the instrumentation and just seem to be its own seperate entity which can prove to be distracting from what was mostly good ideas when it came to the strings and the drums. Even worse are "Fenriz"'s female vocal lines which provide nothing to the overall recording which prove completely useless and downright confusing when listening. What he was thinking none of us can tell, and if it was meant to be a joke, it was a rather poor one considering darkthrone was just breaking out from their prime with Transilvanian Hunger and Panzerfaust before this record came out. The backing vocals and male vocals themselves are equally pitiful and distracting on the recording and definitely take away from what this album could have been.
Goatlord could have been a strong album release, there are definitely some key things surrounding the album that brought it down, but at the same time there were plenty of great ideas put together on the recording that can make some fans of Darkthrone wish they had taken the album and done more for it. Had they taken out the useless clean vocals and had they rerecorded the album in a more professional studio, perhaps Goatlord could've easily rivaled Soulside Journey in terms of how well done it is, but unfortunately Darkthrone decided to just release the rehearsal as was and add some aspects to it which only would make the record turn out worse. Listen to this recording at least once, don't expect much from it, but it's definitely worth spinning once or twice if you can borrow it from someone or download it somewhere for free.