Swedish rockers get deeper into psychedelia, darker than ever before, finds Enrico Monacelli

It’s October and I bought a plastic skull for my windowsill back in mid-September. The veil is thinning by the hour, nay, scratch that: by the minute! The little dead are truly out in droves, as the poet once sang. And the new Goat record opens with a banger of a flute riff that rips like Jethro Tull at their most ghoulish – or Tommy Iommi if he played that flute a tad more. Life’s good. Hail Satan!

By now, Goat are a well-established occultural endeavour. They burst onto the scene in the first leg of the roaring 10s of the twenty-first century. They came from “deepest darkest Sweden”, more specifically from a village called Korpolombolo. But they were no black metal band, oh no: on the contrary, they played spirited music, chuck full of disco licks, Sabbath riffs and world music (whatever that is…) fascinations, inspired by the highly unlikely voodoo curse that a travelling witch doctor cast on their hometown after being persecuted by Christian crusaders. Rad.

Medicine, released this very week, is their fifth full-length record and it is both more of the same ol’ same ol’ Goat and a step forward.

In fact, in more ways than one, Goat picks up where the last two records, Requiem and Oh Death, left off. All of these records, Medicine included, are albums about passing and crossing thresholds. Death, rituals and all that. Medicine, in particular, is haunted by these mysterious images bubbling out of some sinister mycological mythology: witches cauldrons, forbidden vegetations at the edge of the dark forest and all other things that would catapult you in a different realm. But, most importantly, all of these records deploy almost the same sonic palette: fuzzed-to-the-gods psych rock barn burning riffs, nasal-y Ozzy vocals and beats from the world over to spice the whole thing up.

While the last two records (and the rest of Goat’s discography, to be fair) relied HEAVILY on this last element, Medicine doesn’t. Instead, it focuses mainly on delving on the psychedelic rock side of things, unburdening Goat of what was both an essential feature but also, at this point, a bit of an overplayed gimmick. Echoes of the olden days are, of course, present, but when an odd instrument (for rock standards) pops into this new batch of songs, the mind wanders to Brian Jones and Ian Anderson – not world music.

Medicine is, in other words, a straight up psychedelic rock affair – for better and for worse. For the better because when it clicks – in the dungeon psychedelia of a track like ‘Raised by Hills’, for example, or in the caveman chugging of ‘I Became the Unemployment Office’ or the uber-eerie ‘Tripping in the Graveyard’ – does it scratch that psychic itch for arcane rock-n-roll. For the worse because there’s only so much dad rockisms you can endure before feeling a bit of deja-vu and wonder whether this is the reason why you don’t get them TikToks and all that.

Overall, it is an amazingly fun record for spooky psychonauts. So? Wouldst thou want to see the world?! Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?! Join your local cult and listen to Goat.

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