Everything New Under the Sun: Lavagoat

Tuesday 25th, November 2014 / 17:23
By Sarah Kitteringham

LavagoatCALGARY — “Barbarianism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is the whim of circumstance. And barbarianism must ultimately triumph.”

Robert E. Howard infamously penned these words in 1935 in one of the first short stories about his legendary creation Conan the Cimmerian. 79 years later, metal bands around the world cull influence from his rich, adventure-laden writings; penning songs of blood and thunder, with monstrous riffs and epic tales of conquest mirroring those of their fittingly savage hero (for an undoubtedly savage genre of music). Canadian sludge band Lavagoat is among them, a Saskatchewan-based quartet now on their second full-length, the monstrous Ageless Nonsense. It follows hot on the heels of March’s Weird Menace EP.

“We write constantly, and just pick whatever seems to work together for releases,” begins bassist/vocalist Sean, who responds to BeatRoute’s questions via email thanks to overlapping schedules and Lavagoat’s customarily random and somewhat unreliable nature.

“Some of the stuff on [Ageless Nonsense] like ‘Black Lotus’ and ‘Cimmerian Fury’ was written long before our first album. The making of Ageless Nonsense was for a variety of reasons punctuated by some long delays. The actual recording sessions, however, only amounted to four days. Not really any of the usual drunken shenanigans or tripping, and no leg stabbing or corpse fires this time. Probably why it sounds a bit tighter now that I think about it.”

Indeed, Ageless Nonsense is the tightest thus far in Lavagoat’s discography. Spanning 46 minutes and nine tracks, the record features the band’s trademark merging of death metal’s growling, guttural vocals and sludge’s plodding, cavernous riffs and massive, crashing percussion. This time around however, they’ve got tighter, swirling riffs and better juxtapositions. “Satanico Pandemonium” begins with a groovy segment that would fit right in on a Queens of the Stone Age track; “Ice Giants” features their best syncopation yet; “Cimmerian Fury” is appropriately battering. Although the aforementioned Howard is obviously a huge lyrical influence, his writing pal Clark Ashton Smith also appears frequently.

“The vibe of their stories is dark, barbaric and otherworldly: like the literary equivalent of heavy metal. Lines and images from their work just seem to come to mind when we write music,” explains Sean.

Case in point: the tracks “Tower of the Elephant” [from their 2009 demo of the same name] and “Ice Giants” [from Ageless Nonsense] are based on Conan stories, “The Puritan” [from the aforementioned demo] on the Solomon Kane story The Moon of Skulls. “Worms of the Earth” from Ageless Nonsense is culled from the Bran Mak Morn series, all written by Robert E. Howard. Meanwhile, Clark Ashton Smith’s story of the same name inspired “Planet of the Dead” from 2012’s Monoliths of Mars EP, and closing track “Trans Arctic Gulfs” from Ageless… is based on “Coming of the White Worm.”

All told, it results in a battering ram of an album, yet another gem from this criminally underrated Canadian band. Ignore at your peril.

Listen to our exclusive debut stream of Ageless Nonsense below until December 2nd. After that, you can buy the tracks on Bandcamp.

 

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