The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck

Album cover
Folk, Indie
Merge Records
The Mountain Goats
All Eternals Deck
The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck Review rating:
4.5
User rating:
Average: 5 (4 votes)

When utilized correctly, lyrics can be a very powerful asset. Generally taking center stage within folk and even indie music, well-crafted lyricism can elevate an otherwise pedestrian record to landmark status; revealing the insight and sincerity which inspired the record in the first place. Luckily for the Mountain Goats, this is something that John Darnielle had discovered a long time ago. A significant entity for twenty years now, Darnielle has led the Mountain Goats to a prolific career within the folk/indie persuasion; his lyricism cultivating short-stories of triumph, heartbreak, and tragedy, which have been perfectly complimented by the stripped-down nature of their records. Although not overly mind-blowing, the Mountain Goats’ music has always done more than enough to showcase Darnielle’s brilliance, whether this is conveyed through acoustic guitars, piano, and the occasional strings.

The Mountain Goats’ latest All Eternals Deck, does nothing but further Darnielle’s legacy, this time rendering a much darker side of the Mountain Goats. In fact, much of All Eternals Deck seems like something out of a horror film; calm, but yet subtlety disconcerting all at the same time. The record’s irrefutable bleakness is especially brought out with the tandem of “Age of Kings” and “The Autopsy Garland,” which are facilitated by harrowing musicianship and lingering lyricism. “The Autopsy Garland” exploits the latter characteristic with flying colors, highlighted by Darnielle’s murmurs of “You don’t want to see these guys without their masks on.” Amazingly enough, whenever Darnielle delivers these intoxicating one-liners, the band seems to respond with additional distinctions that characterize the record with tremendous precision. “High Hawk Season” is intriguing in that it relies purely on backing vocals; as Darnielle yowls, the rest of the band rides a haunting baritone choir to surprisingly extraordinary results.

All Eternals Deck doesn’t break any music boundaries or anything, but compliments Darnielle’s performance through strings, piano, or even backing vocals. While many argue that albums such as Tallahassee and All Hail West Texas were gripping in that the production was raw and untamed, All Eternals Deck is exactly the opposite. Those records were predominately acoustic and did not rely on a great deal of instrumentation, while All Eternals Deck accumulates quite a bit of zeal from the music. The record’s unambiguous production contributes to a crisp and instrumentally sound release, which is conveyed perfectly in tracks such as “Outer Scorpion Squadron,” and “Never Quite Free.” The former places emphasis on its astonishing orchestral underbelly, while the latter rides an enchanting piano melody to a momentous termination. Despite the record’s chiefly murky ambiance, the pair of piano ballads seem to embody hope at the album’s tail end.

In a sense, All Eternals Deck isn’t showcasing anything new about John Darnielle. His lyricism still reeks of inspiration and desperate poetry, but while his nasally vocals are damning vampires and discussing young supernovas, the band and collaborative members are countering with some of the most intriguing music the outfit has shaped. The Mountain Goats continue to make a case as to being one of the more cohesive units in recent memory, putting forth their greatest accomplishment since We Shall All Be Healed. All Eternals Deck haunts, afflicts, and provokes a sentiment of unease within the listener, but ultimately concludes with a feeling of pure content.

1. Damn These Vampires
2. Birth of Serpents
3. Estate Sale Sign
4. Age of Kings
5. The Autopsy Garland
6. Beautiful Gas Mask
7. High Hawk Season
8. Prowl Great Cain
9. Sourdoire Valley Song
10. Outer Scorpion Squadron
11. For Charles Bronson
12. Never Quite Free
13. Liza Forever Minnelli

The Mountain Goats is the musical project of singer-songwriter and guitarist John Darnielle. The New Yorker magazine referred to him as "America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist". In its June 2006 issue, Paste magazine named Darnielle one of the "100 Best Living Songwriters". Darnielle’s lyrics are literate and filled with imagery that reference classic literature, religion and mythologies, pop culture, art and history. ... read more

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