GYPSY CHIEF GOLIATH – CITIZENS OF NOWHERE
RELEASE DATE: APRIL 15TH, 2016
Imagine your typical doom/stoner metal band. Slow driving, riff heavy fuzzed out Black Sabbath influenced stuff. Usually these bands consist of something that can keep my attention, but it’s rarely, if ever, something original. I’ve reviewed my fair share of “stoner” bands in the past few years. Some of them sound the same, while some of them manage to change things up, typically for the better, thus separating them from the herd. Gypsy Chief Goliath, my most recent endeavor into stoner/doom metal, do manage to change the norm with their upcoming album Citizens of Nowhere.
You may be asking, “how exactly do Gypsy Chief Goliath change things up?” Well, take the most intelligent stoner rock bands you can think of. I’m talking about those bands that are far more than one-dimensional; the ones who sound like they know more of Black Sabbath‘s repertoire other than Iron Man or N.I.B. I can’t think of many either. Take those few bands that you can think of and now add a vocalist who relies on guttural growls over melodic singing. Then add in a full-time harmonica player. That all equals why Citizens of Nowhere is a unique album.
Now, I don’t like screaming vocals. I tolerate them, but I sure don’t like them. There are some bands that can use them well, especially when mixing in a fair share of clean vocals, but in terms of how they are used by Gypsy Chief Goliath, I’m on the fence. The music, on the other hand, is phenomenal. Adding music such as the awesome hard rock that this band puts forward with the singing makes songs like opening track The Sting or the title track Citizens of Nowhere enjoyable. The guitar riffs are key to so many tunes, with my favourite being the main riff heard throughout The Return. The dual guitar sound is put to good use on almost every song as well, with guitar harmonies that can match up with the great Thin Lizzy, most particularly on Holding Grace.
I feel like the vocals aren’t the central focus of Gypsy Chief Goliath. When listening to these tracks, the vocals seem to take a back seat to the music, literally sounding like they were mixed to be in the background, which makes sense since the above mentioned songs have no real melody or hooks to the vocals that significantly remain in my memory seconds after the song ends. There are songs on Citizens of Nowhere that feature a good amount of clean vocals though, or if not clean then at least melodic. The six-minute Black Samurai has some good vocal melodies to tag along with its superior music. Odyssey is another long song with high-calibre music that has a good portion of clean vocals as well. We Died For This features a lot of clean vocals, but something about them just seems off, as though Al Yeti Bones would rather be screaming.
The only song that has all clean vocals is the most experimental track on Citizens of Nowhere is Gloomy Tombs. It has a dazed out sound, reminiscent of how Planet Caravan fits on Sabbath’s Paranoid album, only this song is more of a full rock song than Planet Caravan is. It’s the shortest track, but it leaves a lasting impression. Gypsy Chief Goliath furthers the Black Sabbath influence by including a cover of their song Killing Yourself To Live. While I’m indifferent about the cover, it does give the song an interesting and much more heavy perspective.
Citizens Of Nowhere‘s saving grace is the music, which is why my favourite track, if I had to pick on, is the instrumental Witchcraft for the Ages. That shouldn’t discredit the impact of Al Yeti Bones‘ vocals though, as they do manage to play a large part in Gypsy Chief Goliath‘s sound. It is, after all, the inclusion of such intense vocals that makes their sound unique. Without them, Gypsy Chief Goliath would be a band that makes fantastic music but without something truly distinctive that could separate them from the other heavy metal bands out there. Black Sabbath enthusiasts are sure to dig the music, while lovers of harsh vocals are sure to think the album is something original.
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“The Sting” – It has among the harshest of vocal performances on the album, but unlike most of the other intense tracks, there is a melody that manages to put this track a little above the others on the album, all while Gypsy Chief Goliath shell out the same grand effort into the song’s music.
7 (Out of 10)
|3.||Citizen’s of Nowhere||3:52|
|5.||Elephant in the Room||5:28|
|8.||We Died For This||5:27|
|10.||Witchcraft for the Ages||4:43|
|11.||Killing Yourself to Live||8:05|