Darryl Shepard: guiatrs, vocals
Recorded at Amps vs. Ohms studio in September 2013..
Produced by Blackwolfgoat and Glenn Smith.
Engineered and mixed by Glenn Smith.
Mastered at Baseline Audio Labs by Chris Goosman.
Album artwork and design by Alexander von Wieding.
Album concept by Darryl Shepard.
Tracks 3, 4, 6 and 8 recorded live in the studio, no overdubs.
All songs written by BLACKWOLFGOAT © 2014.
PUBLISHED by VIKINGLIGHTNINGCURSE MUSIC (BMI).
While the electric guitars primacy in rock, and its various mutations, is irreducible, its place in popular music seems less assured as the future of music flows more from hard drives than fretboards. Blackwolfgoat’s “Drone Maintenance” is the type of album that can help liberate the guitar from its exile.
Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, Hackman, Milligram, Roadsaw) is now three albums deep into this project and the rewards are becoming obvious. Blackwolfgoat avoids neat classification as drone, progressive or ambient by refusing to completely honor the artificial conventions of any sub-genre. Experimental comes closest but is still unsatisfying.
Much of the album was recorded live with no recorded samples and limited overdubs, allowing the versatility of Shepard’s guitar to take command. “Drone Mantenience” is a concept album of sorts, held together thematically by the diagnostic notes of a dystopian mechanic (which grow more unsettling as the album progresses). Certain tracks even seem to mimic the ambiance of a late 21st century body shop, with the hiss and hum of the chronically malfunctioning future. Shepard’s guitar soars, trudges, crackles and sings absent the superfluousness that scuttles so much experimental metal.
There is more to “Drone Maintenance” than the fuzz and feedback that you would expect from any artist even loosely affiliated with drone. The oddly sunny “Notausgang” is propulsive and actually rocks in a near conventional sense of the term. “Fahey” appears to be a gentle tip of the wizard hat to the long gone, mad monk of folk/classical guitar. Shepard goes spelunking in a vast underground cavern of dark harmonics on “White Hole”, while “Cyclopean Utopia” closes the album with intermittent (human?) screams interjected over crackling waves of ham radio Sabbath.
The central theme of “Drone Maintenance”can be understood as a metaphor for what Shepard accomplishes with this album : applying human ingenuity to the problems of a flawed yet still imperious technology.
Blackwolfgoat is the brain child/alter ego of Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar, Hackman, Milligram, Roadsaw) and “Drone Maintenance” is his third release under this moniker. This solo progressive drone project is simply that – a progressive drone that not many bands are doing, let alone doing well. “Drone Maintenance” is out via Small Stone Recordings on August 26, 2014.
The album is a quasi-concept album with ten tracks that hypnotize the listener. This latest release has Shepard adding acoustic guitar work to his project, which simply belongs. With each track, you hear Shepard’s influences from early 70s fusion and hypnotic rock sounds. Songs like Fahey sound as if they could have fallen in an early Pink Floyd album.
After 2010′s “Dragonwizardsleeve” and 2011′s “Dronolith,” “Drone Maintenance” works so well as the next step in this natural progression. These one-man bands are very interesting because it is the ultimate perspective that you can have about an artist. As a band, you never know exactly which parts are contributed by which members and how these parts are influenced by the contributions of others. A one-man project is simply the perception of one musician without outside influences.
“Drone Maintenance” is simply hypnotic at times while being melodic at others. You can only expect the unexpected, which is what one would listen to an album like this for. This album will challenge the listener to reevaluate what they feel an album should sound like. Fans of bands such as Sunn0))) and Earth should really give Blackwolfgoat a listen.
- 7 Stars (7 / 10)
BLACKWOLFGOAT is the side project of guitarist Darryl Shepard.
Shepard has been in about thirty different bands. He however, has chosen to create a side project in order to get out, well, whatever the hell this stuff is.
Drone Maintenance is the third record by BLACKWOLFGOAT. The previous two offering solidified the modus operandi: layered guitars, looped works, ambient music.
The current, well, we'll get to that later on in this review.
This particular record is a semi concept album, but who can honestly tell? There is so much going on that it's pretty hard to keep up with any implied story lines....that's not really a bad thing though.
Darryl Shepard of BLACKWOLFGOAT
In an age where Amazon.com is considering sending you books delivered by drones and the US Government infighting over stealth drone attacks, this concept seems strikingly poignant.
The album starts off, and reprises a bit later, with repairmen discussing the issues with the drones that require maintenance.
It's a very interesting concept.
The music itself is esoteric at its very core. If one were to consider the thoughts of a mechanic as they worked on a machine, what would they sound like? Full of words or emotion?
Emotions make noise and they can be heard.
This album was largely captured live and often times in one take. For this reason, the danger is palpable.
To call these songs unpredictable would be like saying Willy Wonka is mildly eccentric. The songs head off into directions that the listener could never expect.
The album cover, the title, the pedigree of the musicians involved all add up to a seriously brutal record, but there's no brutality involved at all. It's, well for lack of a better term, jazz, but compared to Drone Maintenance, a jazz song is as structured as 12 Bar Blues.
This is the most interesting instrumental record I have ever heard in my life.
There are still new species being discovered even as you read this. Hidden on jungle floors, resting on the bottom of river beds, frozen in the world’s tundras lie things that humanity has yet to uncover. This near constant influx of Holocene flora and fauna not only keeps things interesting but is a reminder from Mother Nature that we don’t know everything yet and we probably never will. It’s a slap to our entitled senses. Music, so in tune with the Great Mother, has a similar affect but on a more personal level. Music has a habit of upsetting the apple cart of an entire phylum or genus of musical genres we have personally categorized in our heads. What to do when an artist doesn’t fit into one of those boxes of index cards we keep filed away in our dusty, little minds? Pay it the proper homage.
Blackwolfgoat is the one-man jam of Darryl Shepard, a musician who is used to slaying giant beasts while wielding the axe for such stoner rock/doom metal powerhouses as Black Pyramid and The Scimitar, among others. Blackwolfgoat can only be described as his musical alter-ego. Delineated by multiple sources as “progressive drone” the music on third full-length, Drone Maintenance, is virtually indescribable in the best way possible. It’s also set up as a pseudo-concept record about…well, drone maintenance. If this album is any indication the future drone maintenance people of planet Earth are going to live a very esoteric existence.
It would be interesting to ask Shepard if he views himself as a musician or a guitar player first and foremost. The guitar (both electric, and on this album, acoustic varieties) is the focal point. It’s the fulcrum by which the pendulum constantly swings. But this isn’t just some guys noodling around for an hour and calling it an album. Shepard is also a composer. Each composition relaying the story, almost completely sans lyrical content. When there is sunlight the music reflects as such. When there is a foreboding sense of impending doom, the music speaks it in multiple tongues. It’s as if Shepard himself is speaking through his instrument in similar fashion to how ancient cultures spoke through dance and song around wild bonfires. The story itself may be drastically different but the methodology is handed down through time and space to this moment.
The album begins with one of three tracks that include a spoken word passage of a drone maintainer relaying his findings and work. There is some eeriness to this track, but it’s followed by the downright upbeat “Notausgang” which sounds like a solo ripped from The Cult canon. But the mood quickly turns with the track “Sunfall” as a somber opening riff is complemented by even more melancholic guitar work. This may be the turning point in Shepard’s story. While future tracks like “Fahey” and “Axxtrokk” will offer glimpses of hope, the dye has obviously been cast. This also happens to be where Blackwolfgoat are at their most intriguing and beguiling. The more misgiving the sounds the more hypnotizing this album becomes. It’s a dark enchantress, lush with vivid sonic landscapes. All platitudes of the drone genre are washed away like a snake shedding it’s skin. By the time we reach the third and final spoken word passage the message is one of imminent destruction and we are left there as if we are hearing missives lost in some sort of post-apocalyptic city, never reaching their intended target. The album concludes with “Cyclopean Utopia” which is not only the heaviest track on the album, but arguably the best as well. It’s a downright frightening experience at times as doom metal riffs are cut by anguished screams. This story clearly does not have a happy ending.
Blackwolfgoat is a project that will, at times, challenge a lot of people to reexamine their cloistered definition of “music” and yet simultaneously and ably give them the tools to do so. Drone Maintenance is out via Small Stone Recordings on August 26. You can experience the aforementioned track, “Cyclopean Utopia” over at the Small Stone Bandcamp page.
- Chip McCabe
Blackwolfgoat are a band from Massachusetts that plays a mixture of ambient, drone and doom metal and this is a review of their 2014 album "Drone Maintenance which will be released in August by Small Stone.
Dark and distorted sounding drones start off the album with some spoken word parts and after the intro programmed beats, melodic guitar leads and powerful sounding bass guitars are added into the music and the following track sees the band adding in more clean guitar playing and there is a great amount of diversity presented throughout the recording.
On the 4th track the band go more into an acoustic folk direction before returning back to a drone direction on the following track and bringing back the spoken word parts that where present on the first song which leads up to a more experimental rock direction on the following song and it kicks completely into that direction as well as adding in some high pitched screams that are very close to black metal.
Song number seven starts out with distorted yet melodic guitar leads and background noises while the following song is very long and epic in length as well as seeing the band return back to the more acoustical direction and the following track is a minute long and shows the band adding in a more drone and heavy doom sound which also continues on the last track.
Blackwolfgoat creates an album that is very hard to classify with the music combining ambient, drone, experimental and a small dose of doom metal to create the sound that is present on the recording, the production sound s very professional while the song themes cover utopia.
In my opinion Blackwolfgoat are a very great sounding mixture of ambient, drone, progressive, experimental and doom metal and if you are a fan of those musical genres, you should check out this band. RECOMMENDED TRACKS INCLUDE "Sunfall" "Night heat" "White Hole" and "Cyclopean Utopia". 8 out of 10.
The power of subtlety: in its stillness, subtlety resonates profoundly— it speaks volumes in what is not said, in the space between every act or movement.
Such pocketed power can be experienced on Drone Maintenance, the third release from Darryl Shepard’s solo project Blackwolfgoat, where breezy guitar work, appropriately placed loops, and an introspective mood renders the record a subtly profound and refreshing foray into quiet contemplation.
On Drone, Shepard’s brilliant, breathy guitar work creates the record’s organic, open atmosphere. Engineered and mixed by Glenn Smith of Amps Vs. Ohms Studios in Cambridge, MA, the record is a “quasi-concept” album, where in Shepard is seen as a drone repair man who fixes rogues.
Appropriate, then, is the Drone‘s largely voice-less sonic sphere: listeners experience the inner monologue of one who dutifully toils, with intermittent mood shifts. Looped dissonance adds rough edges, and dewy, acoustic guitar riffs add feeling and precipitation.
Drone Maintenance could be considered whittled down Doom, where sludge is abandoned in favor of a minimalism that still manages to paint heavy hues. At its core, however, Drones is lit warmly by Shepard’s careful consideration of where-to-put-what in each song, as he skirts prominent percussion, any obvious bass or bottom end, and instead focuses solely on showcasing delicate yet finely wrought guitar work.
As a result, Drone Maintenance is a record that’s best experienced, as its subtle colors quietly influence the space in which it is played. The record doesn’t scream its significance, yet it does impress—it certainly impressed me.
- Lindsay O'Connor
This is the third album from Blackwolfgoat who hail from the US.
This is Progressive Doom/Drone. I have enjoyed the previous Blackwolfgoat release Dronolith, and Drone Maintenance continues the core sound only with more variety than previously. Everything is still focused around the electric guitar but now there are added sounds and instruments, including acoustics, percussion and even the odd vocal.
Drone Maintenance is an enjoyably diverse release that comes off almost like one of the more commercial Electronica/Techno releases in the feel of the tracks, how they are made up, what they consist of and the diversity of delivery and expression – the only caveat to this of course is instead of this being delivered in an Electronica/Techno style it’s delivered in a Doom/Drone style. This impression is further increased by the various interludes and samples, etc. that are included on the album. The point is that this is an accomplished release that covers many bases and moods in the 37 minutes playing time.
The semi-concept of the album, (summed up essentially by the title and the lovely artwork), is also a pleasing one.
The musical journey that Drone Maintenance takes the listener on is one of subtle highlights and carefully crafted nuance. Sadly, this album is never going to have a huge audience and will probably be dismissed by the average music fan. This is a huge shame as it’s relatively easy listening and is orders of magnitude better than most of the nonsense that passes as popular music these days.
Blackwolfgoat has a massive amount of potential, most of which will go unrealised in the wider musical scene. Make sure that you don’t miss out though; get listening to this now.