Thursday 7 April 2016

Review: Goatpsalm – 'Downstream'


Goatpsalm are out to confound expectations with their free-flowing blend of dark ambient and extreme metal. Arcane and immersive yet cinematic in scope the band's new album 'Downstream' is a unique creature that is heavy on atmosphere. With funeral doom at its core the band incorporate dark ambient, black and death metal elements and folk instruments to create something that defies all classification and reason.

Opening with the stunning 'Grey Rocks' the band layer slow brooding doom, hushed vocals, haunting synthesizers, and natural noises to weave a shamanistic spell over the listener. 'Flowers Of the Underworld' opens with tribal rhythms and soft wooden pipes before crashing into a full-on funeral doom dirge augmented by female vocals and spacey ambient synths. 'White Sea' features a prolonged introduction of waves crashing and gulls screeching before slowly fading into a folk string section layered over spacey synths to create a restrained almost new age ambient track.

'Orphan' follows on nicely with its drum intro giving way to a slow blackened guitar that slowly builds into another nice slice of funeral doom with throat singing and mouth harps for good measure. 'Of Bone And Sinew' is a more up-tempo and overt blend of black and death metal elements that pulls the album into more demonic territory. 'The Waylayer (A Great Spring Hunger)' retreats back into folk influenced shamanistic ambience again for a long, weird and enthralling composition. The title track closes the album in spectacular fashion with a din of echoing drones slowly unveiling a stead drum beat before unveiling the hushed vocals and haunting guitars that eventually erupts into full-on blackened doom.

The production is wonderful. The mixtures of styles and instruments have not been a problem for the band and everything is performed, recorded and mixed wonderfully putting the atmosphere of each composition at the centre of their tasks.

This is a brilliant album. If you're into haunting ambient, occult and pagan themes, and copious amounts of slow and thick doom metal then this album will be a delight to listen to. It is mysterious, atmospheric, and utterly immersive in its scope and while at times it can be challenging, it is also very rewarding.  

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