Album Review: Goatsodomizer – ‘The Curse Rings True’

…Well, that’s not a band name you see everyday!

OK, being serious for a few seconds, Goatsodomizer, contrary to what you might expect, are actually a thrash metal band (I know, you’d expect a name like that to point towards the band being a death metal band!) from Stockholm in Sweden. The band have been surprisingly lacking in terms of previous studio material, even by what you’d expect from the metal scene, as the band formed in 1995 and their last release prior to this album was a demo in 2002 (from which three of the tracks on this album are taken, although one of them was also from their previous demo from 2000). I’m honestly not entirely sure why the band have been so quiet for so long on the material front, since 13+ years is a LONG time to go without producing anything, but nothing I’ve seen indicates that the band broke up or went on hiatus, so my best guess is that they simply focused on touring for that length of time (which isn’t entirely unlikely: in today’s current music scene, bands have to tour a huge amount to cover their bills, making a focus on recorded material a lot less important than it used to be). The Curse Rings True is noteworthy for being the band’s debut album as a result.

I must say, thinking about it hard enough, the fact that it’s taken 20 years for the band to release an album without it breaking up is a pretty bad sign on paper. I mean, usually bands get picked up for record contracts because someone sees potential in them, so you have to either be incredibly unlucky or really bad for it to take so long to get a deal with a label. That’s not to say that great bands can’t spend more than a few years in the underground before being signed (it happened with Sylosis and Reckless Love, to name a few), but it did raise a pretty big red flag for me when I sat down to listen to the album.

Luckily, said flag turned out to be unnecessary. While I don’t see Goatsodomizer being the next big thing in metal by any measure, they definitely have some pretty good aspects to them which turned this into a surprisingly fun listen.

Cover Goatsodomizer_The Curse Rings True

Before I start the review properly, I feel I should point out the elephant in the room: one of the songs on this album (‘Sidewalk Sinner’) is a Gary Glitter cover. Now, admittedly, it is possible to enjoy the guy’s music without associating it to his personal life, but, as a UK based site, I feel that I should point out to international readers that Gary Glitter is pretty much impossible to say anything nice about and most will not take kindly to having to listen to his music in the UK nowadays. While I do think the cover is actually pretty interesting to listen to, I do not doubt that many UK readers will automatically avoid this record purely because of the inclusion of the song, especially considering the fact that the UK is currently holding a still ongoing investigation into sexual abuse allegations that include the abuse of children due to the revelations of sexual abuse on an unprecedented scale connected to UK celebrity Jimmy Savile after his death and that, as part of this investigation, Gary Glitter has been imprisoned again for 16 years (of which he has served almost a year of so far). Understandably, a Gary Glitter cover at the minute is simply not going to be accepted by UK music fans, no matter how good the quality of it! I highly doubt Goatsodomizer intended to cause any genuine offence over covering a Gary Glitter song, but I feel that pointing all of this out for the benefit of international readers who may not be aware of recent developments should go a long way towards explaining why this album is highly unlikely to get an audience in the UK.

OK, now that that is out of the way, let’s move onto the actual review.

The band describes their music as thrash ‘n roll, which I find to be an odd description, but it is actually not too far from the mark: there’s definitely a more streamlined, simple feel to the band’s music compared to most thrash metal, which could be argued as leaning a bit towards the crossover thrash metal side of things if you want to nitpick genres. This is actually not a bad way of playing thrash metal, if I’m honest, and the band does it well. The band’s more Satanic focused lyrics (which I’m assuming are being done for shock value as opposed to genuine belief in them, although I’ll freely admit that I could be wrong on this one!) are fun as well, in a sort of cheesy horror B-movie kind of way (you know, the sort of one where Dracula looks like a man in white makeup with a cheap Halloween costume doing an awful Bela Lugosi impression and saying stuff like “Ze blood! I must haf…ze blood!” and the camerawork looks like it was shot on a  home video camera), which gives the whole thing a feeling of fun without taking itself too seriously, which wins a lot of points from me because it’s surprisingly refreshing to hear a band willing to have fun with their music!

The songwriting is another saving grace for the record. While some will be put off by the topics of their songwriting (when you have an album with the song titles ‘Raping My Graveyard’ and ‘Sodomized til Death’, you’re not exactly going to appeal to the average person very easily), the songs themselves are actually fairly decent. While the covers of ‘Sidewalk Sinner’ and Motorhead’s ‘Going to Brazil’ are among the strongest songs on the record, the originals aren’t exactly bad, with probably my favourite song on the whole record being ‘Iron Casket’.

The performances are OK on this record. Nothing really ascends them to the level where anyone in the modern metal scene is going to be proclaiming the musicians to be underrated, but they do well enough that it’s hard to fault them technically. The lead guitar work can be pretty good, though. Not earth shattering, but I can’t say that I found myself disappointed with that part of the band’s music at all! Since Per Lindstrom is credited for having done both bass and guitar on this record, I’d probably say that he’s the highlight of the record overall as a result, although I do not mean that Johan Noren’s drumming is bad by that, obviously.

Gustaf Browell’s vocals are interesting, but I wouldn’t say they’re great overall. He has a yell that is, again, fairly old school, but I wouldn’t say he is good enough to reach the heights of some of the legends of the genre, and his occasional addition of more aggressive vocals (probably best summed up as a growl without being death metal vocals, if you can see what I mean) isn’t really enough to stop me from feeling that his performance is a bit lacking from what he should be capable of doing. He isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t say that he’s great either.

The production is actually pretty good overall, being modern, but managing to get an old school aesthetic to it which helps to enhance what the record is doing nicely. Honestly, I think this might be one of the best production jobs I’ve heard so far in 2016: the bass is very easy to hear (although it might require a bit of time to get used to hearing it), the mastering is quiet enough to avoid being problematic while still having some crunch to it to enhance the band’s music and the overall sound of the record is genuinely fairly good. I would have like it a tiny bit louder mastered, in all honesty, but, in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s very well done overall. Seriously, great job to whoever produced this record!

So, overall, I liked The Curse Rings True. It’s not flawless (I think the band could do with improve their songwriting a bit more in the future so that the covers aren’t the best parts of their records, the band’s choice of lyrical topics could do with more variety and Browell’s vocals could be better), but, on an overall level, there’s not a lot to complain about with this record and the final result is certainly enjoyable if you like thrash metal at all. I won’t say this is going to be a record of the year for me, but it’s certainly a fun enough album that it’s worth hearing at least once in your life if you’re a metal fan who doesn’t take the genre too seriously.

The Curse Rings True will be released on the 26th of February by Iron Shield Records. A promo copy of the album was provided for review purposes.