Goblin Cock rules and offered Strange Matter a night of brutal metal for all the right reasons

by | Sep 28, 2016 | METAL, PUNK, THRASH & HARDCORE

It’s Thursday night around 10:30 and we hit the bar just in time to catch Goblin Cock open their set.

It’s Thursday night around 10:30 and we hit the bar just in time to catch Goblin Cock open their set.

Guitars are crunching into Richmond’s own version of Satan’s maw, Strange Matter.

There’s a black robe-clad five piece on the stage possibly channeling the Devil himself and I’m glad the bar line is short.

Metal gets fractured and labeled a lot – but there’s uniting factors. Sometimes those factors meld in a dirty enough way to create an accessible but still brutal project. And sometimes someone labels that project ‘Goblin Cock’ just to people.

“A lot of people make metal not fun for certain people and that’s not what we’re all about,” said Rob Crow, frontman and creator of Goblin Cock, in an interview with RVAMag after their set. Crow started making tunes in Southern California before some of today’s freshmen in college were even born. Back then, Crow was fronting the gruny-proggy project Heavy Vegetable with Eléa Tenuta. It’s got some complicated time signatures and some impressive vocal harmonies and any modern band going for that 90s sound should give it a spin.

Crow went on to form the similarly proggy buy more poppy Pinback with Armistead Burwell Smith IV. The two maintained this project in 1998 over more than the next decade until 2012’s Information Retrieved. Crow remembered coming through RVA for a gig at Twisters way back when.

But between records and solo projects, Crow gave birth to the sludgy metal beast that was burning down the stage before me.

The project follows in some GWARian footsteps where members adopt names and adhere to bizarre personas. There’s musical consistency too, with every guitar on the record tuned to drop-A. But its a mix of the music and the thematic presentation that helps sell the “all hail Satan” angle along side some great tunes. It’s droney but not too noisy. The vocals float over metal riffs – unlike other metal acts that feel more like a knife in the throat.

That doesn’t mean they are any less brutal, and it’s easy to imagine someone in the audience getting sacrificed as songs like “Stumped” play in the background:

Beyond the smoke and cloaks, Crow is the driving force behind the project. Goblin Cock is something that might have few releases over its 15 year history, but it’s never fully on the back burner. And this year’s release of Necronomidonkeykongimicon marked the end of an eight year gap between records (Come With Me If You Want To Live (2008 Robcore Records).

Luckily, the live show and album are both worth the wait. Check out the crunchy pitch harmonics on “Something Haunted” below:

Necronomidonkeykongimicon wasn’t actually Goblin Cock’s only release this year. The “VIP” version of the album included a “cock opera” which has yet be played to completion on either tape or before a live audience.

Crow said the five piece he’s currently touring with is the only group he could perform the short excerpt they do attempt live, but there’s parts missing. “It would be difficult to narrate while playing those parts at the same time, but you never know,” he said noting how long and technical the piece, entitled Dragon Fucking, is.

While the writing and recording process is the fruit of Crow’s efforts, a full performance of Dragon Fucking seems out of reach, at least for now.

But back to what many of you are still wondering – why a band would call themselves ‘Goblin Cock’ and release album covers like the one below for their 2005 debut, Bagged and Boarded:

“Everyday, somebody tells me my own joke back to me as if it was their idea,” Crow said after his set in an Interview with RVAMag. I’d spent the day having people make the “gobbling cock” nonstop comment whenever I’d tell them about the gig, even though I thought it was just a great metal band name.

And for the curious, beyond the incredibly metal sound, production and visual presentation, the name is an open joke.

For Crow, metal and the folks who play it are doing so for maleficent reasons and he’s playing his part to point out what they are missing.

“We like to spread a certain kind of message of all inclusive metal, which is different from what a lot of people do,” he said.

Crow said he remembered growing up with a version of metal that spoke for the little guy, and now it seems to have switched roles. So he named the band Goblin Cock to point out the folks who might be turned off by a band’s name alone, “all the while aiming to represent the voice of the marginalized.”

“We’re getting in there to say ‘guys, lighten up… wieners,’” he said. “It’s immediately alienating 80% of the people who would enjoy it otherwise, but for all the right reasons.”

And enjoy it we did. For the selected few who caught that Thursday night show at Smatter, they saw some well crafted and performed metal from a dude who’s in it for all the right reasons.

Keep up with Goblin Cock on Bandcamp here and facebook here.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner




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