Storming the Gates
Released: 2003, October 32nd
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Some of you might be asking if a third Goat Horn review for Metal-Rules is truly necessary. Likely, those of you asking that question have not heard Goat Horn before. Furthermore, one can never have too many Goat Horn reviews.
That said, Goat Horn is a band that has just come into my attention within the past year, though it was not until a recent trip to Toronto that I had an opportunity to pick up their albums. Well, I must say that it was well worth the wait, because STORMING THE GATES is an instant cult classic!
The three drunkards and Metalholics that make up Goat Horn are about as old-school as they come despite the young age of the band’s members. Their sound is brewed from the finest of beers, late nights partying with your metal buddies, and old school metal, a rich body reminiscent of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Venom, with hints of Manilla Road, Mercyful Fate, and Cathedral. Goat Horn does not play any particular style or subgenre of metal, but rather nestles firmly in that little crux of the metal tree right before the branching of separate subgenres.
STORMING THE GATES could easily have been released on vinyl in the mid-80s and not seem the slightest bit out of place. The album is graced by the warm, rich sound of analog production that adds a degree of depth and authenticity to the entire package. On their first album, VOYAGE TO NOWHERE, the sound was more along the heavy/doom lines, but the sound on STORMING THE GATES has been stripped to the bare roots of old-school heavy metal. The first four tracks are slightly on the doomier edge of mid-paced traditional “Storming True Heavy Metal” as the band puts it, which feels a lot like Cathedral or Saint Vitus. Songs like “Gates of Oppression” and “Rotten Roll” are punchy and to-the-point, proving Goat Horn’s proficiency in good song writing. There is a slight gear shift as the album moves into its second half, bringing in more traditional-power influence of Manilla Road or 80s US-Power Metal. Here, Brandon Wars shows off his skill by single-handedly throwing down leads and riffs that would make Murray/Smith, Tipton/Downing, or Hank Shermann proud. I can just see him and bassist/vocalist Jason Decay practicing their synchronized headbanging onstage as I listen to songs like the galloping “The Last Force.” Speaking of Jason Decay, he has that voice that sounds more at home singing punk than metal; a clean, very throaty voice that does not quite approach a growl.
Goat Horn’s STORMING THE GATES hits 8-for-8 tracks that are absolute winners (“Storming In” is a 30-second interlude), but the big plus here is that no two songs sound alike, keeping the album fresh at every turn. These guys live, breathe, eat, sleep, and shit heavy metal, and their second album has solidified their position in the ranks of underground metal. This album is a must-own for everyone!