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For the last 20 years or so, Norway has been the home of ultra-serious, no-fun-allowed black metal. But in 2010, it seems Norway is showing a different side, with fun-loving, non-black metal bands like Kvelertak and Goat the Head.
Goat the Head is a death metal band. I have no idea what the name is supposed to mean (if anything), but the final track of sophomore full-length Doppelgängers seems to provide their manifesto: "Primal Caveman Death Metal". They sound a lot like their neighbors to the east in Unleashed. It's very simple, pure death metal, without anything technical, and no weird time signatures. Most of it's mid-paced, but they effortlessly shift to much faster tempo and back. The bass is just loud enough and the drums just exciting enough to keep it going, with nice fills that never sound like showing off. The vocals sound like an ordinary human growl, but primal.
In contrast to Unleashed, however, this music is done in a sense of fun. They may let that sense get slightly out of hand when they let gang vocals creep in on "The Hunt is On (Sexy Son)", but the rest of the time it works perfectly. The songs have have head-bobbing rhythms, killer riffs, just-flashy-enough solos, and memorable shout-along choruses. Despite their primitivism, they do show some slight tendencies toward experimentation. "This Tube Is the Gospel", with its samples, choir, and female vocals, sounds like a parody of the gospel music you'd hear on a televangelism TV show. Album standout "The Ubiquitous Cube" has slow, minimalist, dissonant verses.
This is the most fun you'll have with death all year.
The Verdict: Goat the Head have proven that getting more technical and more brutal are not the only ways to make a great death metal album, even in 2010. All it has to be is catchy and fun.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/