The reputation of Goatmoon goes without saying. We non-Finns imagine a warrior who lives in isolation in the Finnish cold who spawns music through this medium, both with the raw black metal edge and pagan spirit. BlackGoat Gravedesecrator, the name of Goatmoon’s sole member brings up the production value and triumphant pagan spirits with his new record “Stella Polaris”.
A brief folk intro leads us into battle with the title track. Immediately we recognise BlackGoat’s vocal style and are greeted with an array of instrumentation. We certainly are witnessing an evolution of Goatmoon. The instrumentation in this song alone knows when to go to the front or to lay back and let vocals tell their story. The middle section sees some tasteful bass fills which are rarely heard in the genre, we also get a traditional metal solo towards the end and some traditional sounding instruments, all of which have great balance.
This title track certainly sets the album up well, moving rather swiftly into “Kansojen Hävittäjä” that begins with a very viking metal-esque riff. It should be noted that while viking metal is very prominent in the record, it is not without it’s original ‘kvlt’ sounding riffs, vocals and atmosphere despite a higher production value. You need not be worried that this is a goofy folk metal album or a cliché and unoriginal viking themed melodic death metal record. While the track “Sonderkommando Nord” has it’s lament like mood, it is clear that BlackGoat has put effort and emotion into building such atmosphere and does not feel the need to have a sad track in the record for the sake of it.
We then come to “Warrior”, one of my favourite tracks on this release. It has a great balance of sad emotion and straight anger, with some traditional riffs you’d hear in the mid-nineties black metal. After we are greeted with the quite straight forward track “Conqueror”, we end the release on “Overlord”. I can’t help but get feelings from Taake and Satanic Warmaster, but we are still aware that this is a Goatmoon song. This song has some very nice synths and traditional instrumentation towards the end and gains a very epic feel which is the climax of a what is even a rather vague theme. I am unsure if there is a theme present in the record but it does not over stay it’s welcome either, so it is a nice collection of singular songs that share a similar setting.
This album takes black metal in the right direction in my opinion. It keeps its initial intent but isn’t being harsh for the sake of it. The production is brilliant, but it is necessary due to the many isntruments and layers used in each song. It is not overly polished but it is certainly a beautiful mix for the genre. The instrumentation is fantastic and expands on the use of harmonies, synths and even the bass guitar otherwise not concentrated on in the genre. While the theme is quite vague it sets Goatmoon up for future releases with a fresh sound, while we can still respect his classic releases like “Finnish Steel Storm”, despite not being as raw or provocative. “Stella Polaris” is certainly an evolution for Goatmoon and his ability to create songs that stay in the mind with a high replay ability should be noted and this should be help up as a great modern black metal album.
Verdict: Takes a step in the right direction and makes use of good production. A great modern black metal album. 85%.
Highlights: “Stella Polaris”, “Warrior”
You may also like: Satanic Warmaster, Isengard, Bathory, Sargeist, Taake