THE MOUNTAIN GOATS play the Opera House April 3. See listing. Rating: NNNN
The band John Darnielle started in 1991 as a solo lo-fi outfit that centred on his voice and acoustic guitar playing is now a trio free to explore dynamics and musical genres at will. And so, despite a track list that reads like a metal album - and with Morbid Angel's Eric Rutan as one of the record's four producers - All Eternals Deck covers a lot of ground.
The lyrics, less reliant on the character studies (biographical and otherwise) found on his previous records, still relay vivid imagery but focus on moments in time rather than telling the whole story. And Darnielle is becoming an increasingly subtle singer.
String sections, brushed drums and, on High Hawk Season, backing vocals that recall the Jordanaires give the album a dynamic, varied sound and make it the Mountain Goats' most surprising creation.
Top track: Birth Of Serpents