Toad King


Way back in 1971, Ozzy's sampled cough in the beginning of "Sweet Leaf", on the […]
By Sean McGuirk
January 19, 2019
Goblinsmoker - Toad King album cover

Way back in 1971, Ozzy's sampled cough in the beginning of "Sweet Leaf", on the iconic "Masters of Reality" album, sparked a revolution. It was during that very recording session that the Stoner Doom Metal genre was birthed and the love affair between Doom and marijuana really took hold. Many years later, SLEEP took that weed connection, warped it and made it into a whacked-out concept album called, "Jerusalem", and later "Dopesmoker", which no doubt had a huge influence on the band we have here: the fantastically named GOBLINSMOKER, out of the UK.

The fantasy Stoner Doom project stars Adam Kennedy, who plays guitars, bass, and does vocals on this three-song debut EP, while Calum Young plays drums. The mythology behind it revolves around a race of goblins that worship a toad as their king. King Toad is moody, unhappy with the goings-on in his kingdom, and likes to literally smoke his subjects, who willingly offer themselves up to him (see the cassette-formatted album art for a depiction of this scene.) Note: if you're keeping track of goblin-themed bands at home, the band has little to do with fellow spooksters, GOBLIN or NEKROGOBLIKON, and is closer to the fuzzed-out blues sound of ORANGE GOBLIN and should not be confused, under any circumstances, with fellow Stoner Metal outfit GOBLIN COCK. Thanks for your attention to this matter.

We're introduced to the title character in the opening track with a foreboding Grieg-inspired "Hall of the Bullfrog" riff set to slow and low. We're also introduced to another key element to this EP, the wall of fuzz, which, like any good Stoner/Sludge record, protrudes from the speaker and scrapes the ears like a ball of steel wool. The product of a distorted bass and fuzz-pedaled guitars, it's perfectly tuned, mixed and seemingly infinite, as it puts the listener in a trance with its sharp monotonous tone throughout the record. Kennedy's vocals, which are further in the back and commence like black metal screams from the eye of a distant K-hole, are more in the vein of WEEDEATER or BONGZILLA, as opposed to the clean, deranged vocals of Lee Dorrian's CATHEDRAL. The lyrics here spell out the concept ("Goblin smoke fills the air" and a chorus of "Toad King, worship him"), as does the sound design, with bullfrog chirps hidden within layers of distortion and feedback at the beginning and close of the song.

"Take The Dead" comes on like a hammer after a long lead up, starting in earnest with a classic Gustav Holst "Mars" Doom progression. That first open chord reveals the majesty and the sheer magnitude of the sound on this record, a force that truly sucks air from the room and back into the speakers. Drummer Calum Young's playing is elegantly simple, as he gets into a nice groove as the title is screamed out over and over from the beyond. The distorted bass starts to break through the clutter toward the end, as the churning outro plays the song to its conclusion.

"Time To Ride" boasts a nice melodic CORROSION OF CONFORMITY-style riff at its center, with a long pause for a bend/slide that gives you one big gulp of air before you are plunged back under (bong) water. There's a biker doom flavor to the proceedings before a funereal breakdown shifts gears and BPM's. The phrase "Time has come calling for me" is the sign that this is your moment of decision, to jump in the cauldron and be smoked by the Reptilian King or run for your sweet goblin life. We marinate on that choice for a moment before a winding coil of feedback takes us back into a Prog-like jam, the most musical on the record, with a nice stutter beat from Young mixing things up. The outro summarizes all that came before it as we foggily awaken from this 24-minute trip.

No doubt about it, this is high quality, hazy Stoner Doom from start to finish. The superb production alone (recorded at No Studio in Manchester) merits repeat listens. The fantasy concept definitely adds to the albums charisma, giving it a thoughtfulness that is more than just taking a phrase and weedify-ing it. I do hope it is fleshed out a little more and perhaps a little more intelligible on a future full-length album though. Does the Toad run out of Goblins to smoke? Will there be a Goblin uprising? Will the Toad call for a government shutdown and will his wall ever get built? Tune in next week!<

8 / 10









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"Toad King" Track-listing:

1. Toad King
2. Take The Dead
3. Time To Ride

Goblinsmoker Lineup:

Adam Kennedy - Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Calum Young - Drums

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