The words and animated visuals in the lyric video you’re about to see reflect utter disgust with the vile and lying regimes that have dominated many nations in recent years, and proclaim only one answer: Bring it all to ruin, and start again. And in the electrifying song you’re about to hear, Vancouver-based Thirteen Goats begin the process themselves, by doing their furious best to pulverize everything around them and burn it to the ground.
This new song, “Return To Ruin“, is the first single from Thirteen Goats‘ forthcoming debut album Servants of the Outer Dark, a gut-punching and head-hooking offering of death metal that borrows liberally from many of the genre’s subsets, as well as bringing in elements of thrash, black metal, and grindcore. The band introduce the album in these words:
L-R – Rob Fitzgerald (Guitars, Vocals), Graham K. Miles (Vocals, Guitars), Mike Redston (Bass, Vocals)
Photo Credit – Caitlin Delaplace
Servants of the Outer Dark is a sonic trip that winds down the most twisted sections of extreme metal’s memory lane on a journey to wicked new horizons, [weaving] together conventions from numerous extreme metal subgenres on songs that range from topical to tongue-in-cheek — some songs have a serious social message, and others are about cooking and eating your enemies. The album title is also a reference to the band’s name — the band’s mascot, Shepherd, is an antichrist figure who wears a goat skull mask, appearing throughout time and space to commit various evil acts with the help of twelve demon goats who function as his disciples. Together, they are THIRTEEN GOATS — and Servants of the Outer Dark.
“Return To Ruin” is one of the album tracks with a serious social message, as explained by the band’s frontman, lyricist, and lead guitarist Graham K. Miles:
“Return to Ruin” came from a place of deep anger with a number of institutions and systems that I feel are failing the current generation—predominantly governments and large corporations that are waging war, both literally and economically, against everyday people around the world. From the widespread mismanagement of a global pandemic to increasing wealth inequality, an ongoing environmental crisis, a rising tide of political extremism, and now a new Cold War with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we are living in the midst of extremely dark times—and the people who are supposed to shepherd us through them seem to be leading us to the slaughterhouse instead of towards greener pastures.
All of the current live band members have roots in Eastern Europe — we have one Ukrainian (me), two Russians, and an Armenian. But all of us are against the war and against people who use power unjustly. This song is intended to be a call to arms — a protest anthem that invites listeners to question authority figures and the systems they’ve set up, and to burn those systems down if they’re not working so we can start over with something better. Like we say in the lyrics: “Sacrifice the ones you’re serving; ask yourself what they’re preserving.”
But now let’s get back to the music itself. As forecast above, it blazes like a wildfire running ferociously out of control, powered by a panoply of turbocharged riffing, riotous drumwork, and vitriolic vocals that span a range from guttural bellows to screeching shrieks, wild howls, and savage near-sung yells.
The guitars twitch in demented thrashing fevers, jolt like jackhammers, swarm in feeding frenzies, and eject brazen fanfares, augmented by solos that spit fire and beautifully swirl. The rhythm section will also beat you senseless, but engage in some interesting off-kilter interplays as well. Graham K. Miles explains again:
“I was really inspired by late ‘90s Deicide—specifically, the stuff off ‘Serpents of the Light’ when I wrote this song. It’s a real right-hand workout, with tons of trem-picking in the verses and a chorus that kind of bounces up and down the necks of the guitars in a weird rhythm that feels like it’s almost too early for the beat (but actually isn’t).”
Servants of the Outer Dark is set for release on July 1st, and it comes recommended for fans of Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Decapitated, Misery Index, and Death. You’ll find useful links below, but first here are a few more interesting tidbits about the band:
- The above-quoted Graham K. Miles is a classically-trained Shakespearean actor with a master’s degree in theatre from the New School for Drama (formerly the Actor’s Studio Drama School) in New York City. He got into a motorcycle accident midway through the recording process, and performed all his guitar solos on the record with a broken finger and both wrists sprained.
- Bass player Mike Redston is also the sole member and songwriter of one-man black metal project Snakeblade.
- Rob Fitzgerald’s first jam partner was his dad, who was the drummer in a ’70s-style rock band called The Wee Band. To this day, Rob thinks his Dad might have had something to do with his love for death metal—which he describes as music where “you’re basically playing drums on all the instruments — even the guitars”.