Vancouver's Thirteen Goats Don't Care What You Think on 'Servants of the Outer Dark'
Published Jun 30, 2022Back in the early aughts, when metalcore was all the rage, schools of subgenre philosophy opened their doors to admit hoards of fans, young and old, to debate the question of which metal is the coolest. Young fans clad in Hot Topic band shirts clashed with old farts in faded tour shirts, with neither side gaining ground with substantial evidence. Vancouver's Thirteen Goats unapologetically raise the deathcore flag for the new decade and absolutely don't care what people think.
As if his one-man black-metal band Snakeblade wasn't enough, multi-instrumentalist Mike Redston plays bass alongside guitarist-vocalists Graham Miles and Rob Fitzgerald. Steeped in the classic death metal of Cannibal Corpse and Monstrosity with the delivery of All Shall Perish and Lorna Shore, the band was originally called Commandra but changed their name to Thirteen Goats in reference to their masked goatlord and mascot, Shepherd.
Their debut album, Servants of the Outer Dark, covers many metal touchstones — arguably too many. Sporting both Deicide-like death growls and clean vocals à la Hammers of Misfortune, the epic title track has Death-styled breakdowns, while "Challenge the Executioner" leans more toward Megadeth-esque chord progressions. Conversely, "Prisoner's Anthem" heaves forward on a hardcore run with bellowed vocals and melodic gang choruses while brandishing Annihilator-like thrash interludes. "Unholy Mass" blends Misery Index overtones with Aborted brutality.
Miles and Fitzgerald imbue each song with multiple vocal layers: "Sub-Being" features their most vicious vocals along the lines of Goatwhore or In Dying Arms, while "Return to Ruin" includes Miles' best impression of Dave Mustaine's signature snarl in a later verse. If their press photo is correct, the band wears hooded robes like Sunn0))) for dramatic effect, though their music dictates Slipknot-esque masks.
Thirteen Goats may be the only current band mixing the styles of Cryptopsy with Fit For an Autopsy, and only time will tell if Servants of the Outer Dark will become the band's standard or simply this year's sentiment. (Independent)