Album Review – Goatchrist / Pythagoras (2019)

Like a phoenix arising from the ashes, one-man project Goatchrist returns with a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of Pythagoras.

After a huge and cryptic hiatus that lasted for three long years, the talented multi-instrumentalist Jacob Guilherme, or J. Guilherme if you prefer, previously known as Dominator Xul’Ahabra, is back in action with his Leeds, UK-based one-man project Goatchrist, now venturing through the realms of Experimental Black Metal instead of the Blackened Death Metal from his early days. If you’re familiar with Goatchrist’s discography, let’s say the more vicious and austere music found in his previous albums, those being She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror, from 2014, The Epic Tragedy of the Cult of Enlil, from 2015, and Discipline and Terror (The Timeless Praxes of the Drakon Covenant), from 2016, gave place to a much more experimental and melodic sonority with a focus on metaphysical philosophies, and that new era of Goatchrist can be fully appreciated in his brand new opus, entitled Pythagoras, a conceptual full-length album about the Greek metaphysical philosopher, father of the Western philosophical tradition and ideological precursor to occultism.

Dedicated to R. R. Givens (also known as Proscriptor McGovern, from American Black/Thrash Metal band Absu), a man of great talent and understanding and a significant inspiration in the creation of the album, Pythagoras features a thrilling melding of Black Metal, Jazz and progressive music, exploring the various metaphysical and occult philosophies of the ancient Greek sage, such as the ontology of all existence, the five three-dimensional solids whose faces are regular polygons and their links to the five pre-scientific “elements” (air, fire, earth, water and aether), and the Pythagorean attitude towards reincarnation. Written, recorded, mixed and mastered between J. Guilherme’s home studio and V. Calin’s home studio, who by the way lends his musical talents to a couple of songs in the album, Pythagoras might be one of the best fusions of extreme music (and other styles) with science and philosophy from the underground and independent scene of the past few years, proving why although Jacob shouldn’t have stopped making music under his project Goatchrist a few years ago, his break was more than healthy and inspiring as we can all enjoy now with Pythagoras.

The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus is an instrumental, epic intro that sets the stage for Worlds, a lot more melodic and ethereal than Goatchrist’s previous endeavors, where Jacob does a great job on the guitars and drums, generating an enfolding and experimental atmosphere and also presenting an interesting paradox between demonic screeches and clean, anguished vocals. Moreover, right from the beginning you can sense the aforementioned hints of Jazz added to the music, which is also the case in The Tetractys, offering more experimentations and idiosyncratic sounds from Jacob’s (un)usual instruments and, consequently, feeling a lot more Progressive Metal than Black Metal, with its lyrics being some sort of lecture about what the title of the song truly means (“Tetractys of the Decad: / One, two, three and four / in union; musica universalis – / Unity; Dyad; Harmony; Kosmos.”).

Back to a more berserk and violent mode, Jacob slashes his strings while at the same time he blasts delicate and futuristic sounds and tones in Pythagorean Solids, with his harsh gnarls and whimsical keys being in absolute sync form start to finish, whereas in Introduction to Numbers we’re treated to one minute of madness flowing from his keys before all hell breaks loose in Numbers, reminding me of some of his oldest creations in terms of fury and heaviness, blending old school Black Metal with tons of progressiveness and the gentleness of Jazz. In other words, this is a full-bodied creation that lives up to Goatchrist’s own legacy, and undoubtedly one of the best moments of the album.

Then we have Harmony of the Spheres, a somber, atmospheric and minimalist composition that works like an extended bridge to Metempsychosis, bringing forward elements from the Stygian music by Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Rotting Christ, with the hellish growls by Jacob matching perfectly with the instrumental pieces and also presenting a lot of groove flowing from his wicked bass lines and intricate piano notes. And lastly, The Death of Pythagoras is a very introspective tune spiced up by deep, dark lyrics (“Then the sun will set over Croton, / The folk tire of his ways – of his ways. / The greatest mind in all of time, / Approaches the end of his days – of his days. / Enemies travelled in the dead of night, / To the meeting house in Milo, setting it alight.”) and nuances of R&B and Indie Rock in the vocal lines, and if you are a patient person simply wait for a while as after a few minutes of silence Jacob offers us all nothing more, nothing less than his own bizarre and fun “cover” version for American singer Billie Eilish’s hit Bad Guy. I bet you’ll be surprised with the final result of this moment of relaxation by Mr. Guilherme.

As already mentioned, I’m quite happy and excited with the return of Jacob Guilherme to the world of extreme music under his one-man army Goatchrist, and let’s hope the feedback he receives from metal fans like us is enough to inspire him to release more and more Goatchrist albums in the future, always dealing with the most diverse and interesting themes like what we see in Pythagoras. Hence, don’t forget to show him your support by following Goatchrist on Facebook, and by purchasing Pythagoras from his own BandCamp page, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Amidst the seriousness of all the metaphysical and occult philosophies by Pythagoras there’s still room for the crushing and experimental sounds of Black Metal, and fortunately we have Mr. Jacob Guilherme to channel that amalgamation of styles and topics through his inner beast Goatchrist, exactly how underground extreme music is supposed to be.

Best moments of the album: Worlds, Pythagorean Solids and Numbers.

Worst moments of the album: Harmony of the Spheres.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. The Initiation of Pythagoras by Thoth Hermes Tresmegistus 1:12
2. Worlds 8:44
3. The Tetractys 4:00
4. Pythagorean Solids 4:19
5. Introduction to Numbers 1:01
6. Numbers 5:45
7. Harmony of the Spheres 4:14
8. Metempsychosis 8:28
9. The Death of Pythagoras / Bad Guy (Billie Eilish cover) (Hidden track) 10:50

Band members
J. Guilherme – vocals, all instruments

Guest musicians
V. Calin – lead guitar on “Worlds”, vocals (chorus) on “The Death of Pythagoras”
D. Tann – vocals on “Worlds”

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