Thursday, August 27, 2015

…the Devil descends on you: GOYA – ‘Obelisk’

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.

Obelisk, the second full-length from Phoenix three-piece Goya, is a monumental step forward from what was already an impressive beginning. The band’s debut, 777 (review HERE), was a grimy, acid-drenched excursion into the seedy underbelly of heavy music occupied by the likes of Electric Wizard, pre-’93 Monster Magnet, Blood Farmers, and, of course, classic era Black Sabbath. The band followed their debut with the excellent 2014 EP Satan’s Fire (review HERE) and a split with Seattle’s Wounded Giant featuring Goya’s “No Place in the Sky” from the forthcoming Obelisk. Each successive release has found Goya transcending and, in many ways, eclipsing their influences.

Obelisk, like the beast rising from the sea, is a multi-headed blasphemous monster of an album that demonstrates not only Goya’s propensity for crafting evil, unforgettable heavy tunes, but also their ability to manipulate the album’s overall tone with the moody instrumentals “The Star” and “Echo from Space.” Though both are brief, “The Star” and “Echo from Space” add ominous textures to the doom-laden album. The best example of Goya’s growth and their willingness to spread their wings can be heard on the haunting “300 Eyes.” It is a sparse acoustic number that is equal parts melancholia and self-loathing. Jeff Owens gives a nuanced vocal performance that simultaneously conveys sadness and a seething, underlying rage.

Although “The Star,” “Echo from Space,” and “300 Eyes” are all nice distractions, at the end of the day—with Goya—it is all about the riffs and Obelisk is in no short supply. While there is no single weak track to be heard on the entirety of the album nothing quite stands out like the seemingly Richard Ramirez inspired “Beyond Good Evil.” The track is not only among the heaviest of the collection, but it is also imbued with the album’s most infectious chorus—both musically and vocally.

Since the release of 777 every subsequent Goya release has been highly anticipated around these parts and they have yet to disappoint. Obelisk is easily the band’s most varied release to date, but it also stands as their darkest and grimiest. Goya have channeled a black, twisted psychology with their latest both musically and atmospherically. Obelisk, with its heavy, overblown riffs and feedback strewn soundscapes, is top-tier material that easily stands among the year’s best. Highly recommended…



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