Finnish soloist Tuomas Kauppinen – the entity behind the idea of Nobody – takes the notions, many and varied, of what constitutes black metal in 2019 and turns most – if not all – of them on their head on Gospel of the Goat. Inverse would indeed seem to be a suitable imprint for such an idealistic Crusade.

In essence, acoustic black metal is neither new nor particularly effective. In the practice of Kauppinen, however, the sparse elemental aspects of the genre are pushed to the fore; stripped of all bombast – of all pride – only the elemental remains. Success is grasped almost in spite of itself. The conceit works.

Thus Desecrating The Priest’s Daughter is given almost Goyaesque menace by the addition of a flamenco-styled guitar accompanying the more prosaic rasp of Kauppinen. The song becomes triumphant in it’s simplicity, a tribute to the songwriter’s craft as opposed to that of the mere stylist. This is a refreshing departure but one that can only work in the hands of a truly skilled artist. It is not enough merely to present ‘acoustic black metal’ with unamplified instruments. The intent inherent in all black metal must remain. And on Gospel of the Goat it surely does.

Final piece The Temple is perhaps the most effective in harnessing all of the elements required to create successful black metal art; in itself the track therefore becomes perhaps the most ‘ordinary’ to be presented, or at least certainly the most straightforward. But throughout this release’s short duration there are enough markers to suggest that Nobody is able to make the spirits dance to his own tune, whatever that tune is and however that tune is presented. The acoustic format leaves no hiding place for the inadequate or half-formed; Nobody is neither.

Gospel of the Goat is released on January 17th.