Good melodic death metal is in painfully short supply these days. Sure, there are a small handful of stalwart bands that continue to soldier on, but to say that the subgenre could stand to be infused with some fresh blood is an understatement. Fortunately, Ye Goat-Herd Gods have emerged from the frozen Canadian wastes to rescue us from the dearth of new and interesting melodeath sounds with their mighty second album, Ashes Shall Be Made of Them.
Upon initial listens, Ashes Shall Be Made of Them recalls the ruggedly epic, battle-ready death metal of Amon Amarth and Unleashed. But that isn’t to say that Ye Goat-Herd Gods aren’t original in their approach, only that the musical path they’re treading is somewhat similar to that of some of death metal’s best and most enduring bands, and where I come from that’s never a bad thing. In fact, the more time one spends with the album, the more apparent it becomes that melodic death metal is merely a jumping-off point for this ambitious quartet to establish their own distinct identity within the annals of extreme music.
Indeed, the band is far from one-dimensional, incorporating elements of thrash, black metal and traditional heavy metal into rough and ready tracks such as “Ribspreader” “Helldriver” “Arduous March” and “Shades of Astaroth,” to name but a few. Each song on Ashes Shall Be Made of Them has its own unique feel and character, yet they also hang together cohesively as a complete listening experience. As metal fans, we’ve become so accustomed to slogging through albums full of songs that all sound essentially the same that it is beyond refreshing to experience Ye Goat-Herd Gods’ dynamic and meticulously detailed songwriting, not to mention their ace musicianship.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by the band’s own vocalist/guitarist Gord Olson, Ashes Shall Be Made of Them sounds great; the production is a near-perfect mix of clarity and heft that lends itself perfectly to Ye Goat-Herd Gods’ bruising yet catchy style of death metal. It has a gritty, old school feel that suits the songs to a T without sounding like the hordes of shamelessly retro DM bands that have come out of the woodwork over the last several years.
With Ashes Shall Be Made of Them, Ye Goat-Herd Gods are poised to make a name for themselves as a band to keep an eye on. The album proves that they have all the necessary tools to succeed, and with such an obvious dedication to their craft, it likely won’t be long before labels come calling to get a piece of the action. Best to get in on the ground floor now before these guys gain the widespread notoriety they deserve.