(Mystery Box/Razor & Tie)
You have two routes to go with gimmicks: serious or silly. Blind Guardian has done awfully well with its genuine take on fantasy metal. Alestorm has succeeded with its silly take on pirate metal. LA-based troupe Nekrogoblikon may have one of the more interesting gimmicks. The band has supposedly been held hostage by goblins from outer space who use the band to integrate goblin culture unto the Earth. In a similar way that Gwar took on something (intergalactic terrorists) and made it theirs (no matter how silly), Nekrogoblikon has absolutely owned this “Goblin Metal” on Heavy Meta. If you couldn’t tell from the (goblin) tongue planted firmly in cheek with the album’s title, this is the type of record not meant to be taken seriously. There’s a song on here called “We Need A Gimmick” where the goblins are deciding which gimmick to use to “get the trust of the human race”. It’s wonderful. Of course, this gimmick is to utilize Nekrogoblikon to woo humanity into the goblin way of life. The band’s style of metal is a mix of melodeath and a unique take on folk metal. That means you have riffs and melodies galore.
So, the question remains: does all this gimmick and silliness translate into something worthwhile? Thankfully, these musicians are on top form throughout Heavy Meta. This is the band’s fourth release, and it’s also their most fleshed-out (no pun intended), where the sound hits that sweet spot between consistency and subtle tweaks that allow songs to be memorable. Up until this release, the band’s highlight has been this excellent video for the equally excellent “No One Survives” (watch below). Now we have a full album of songs of that quality that can please the inner comedian and the inner metalhead. “Snax & Violence” is a hyper melodic ode to the first time goblins thought about combining violence and food. I generally don’t care to use blood as gravy, but I’m a tad different from most goblins, I suppose. “Mood Swing” is the penultimate song that discusses a “final mood swing” to the last song, while brilliantly utilizing a swing musical motif. “Let’s Get Fucked” is the catchiest song here, and it just plays out like a perfect live song. Oh, and Andrew W.K. has a perfect cameo near the end.
Overall, this is an excellent metal album from the world’s premiere Goblin metal outfit. The fact that this gimmick is humorous and interesting enough to sustain a full album is merely a big bonus. After the lackluster Power EP, Nekrogoblikon has mastered the balance between silly subject matter and serious musical chops. It may take a couple listens to let the album truly sink in, but you’ll be humming along to the album in no time. Let’s get a goblin party going! (Nicholas Senior)